By  on August 29, 2008

Shares of Zale Corp. surged more than 20 percent Thursday after the jewelry retailer reported a fourth-quarter loss far below analysts’ expectations and laid out 2009 guidance well above them.

For the three months ended July 31, the Dallas-based firm reported a net loss of $4.9 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, against net income of $1.5 million, or 3 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Accelerated by the company’s plan to reduce inventory, sales were up 6.1 percent to $456.2 million from $430 million in the year-ago quarter and were up 6.1 percent on a same-store basis, reducing the company’s year-end same-store sales decline to 0.7 percent.

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