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Chico’s Net Climbs 57.4% in Q3

Specialty retailer is on a roll with a 9.9 percent comp sales rise in the period.

Chico’s FAS Inc. continued to grab market share in the third quarter.

The firm’s earnings jumped 57.4 percent to $41.7 million, or 25 cents a share, from $26.5 million, or 16 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding costs associated with September 2011 acquisition of direct merchant Boston Proper, Chico’s earnings per diluted share rose to 25 cents from 18 cents a year earlier and were 3 cents ahead of the 22 cents analysts projected.

Total sales advanced 18.2 percent to $636.7 million from $538.5 million with a 9.9 percent rise in comparable-store sales.

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For the full year, the company projected comp sales growth in the midsingle-digit range.

David Dyer, president and chief executive officer, told analysts on a conference call that he was being cautious heading into the holiday season given the uncertainties around the economy and the fiscal cliff.

“We are planning with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake,” Dyer said. “There is no sense to plan aggressively or to get our inventory ahead of our business. When that happens, when you plan the inventory ahead of the business, if the business does not come, you’ve got things to get out of.”

Investors took a cautious approach too, pushing shares of the firm down 0.8 percent to $18.02 Tuesday. The Fort Myers, Fla.-based firm has 1,209 full-price stores under the Chico’s, White House|Black Market and Soma Intimates nameplates.