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Express Boosts Profit Outlook

Second-quarter profits rise 7.2 percent at retailer.

Express store in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Express Inc.’s second-quarter profits gained 7.2 percent, and the specialty chain bucked the broader retail trend, raising its guidance for the full year.

Profits for the quarter rose to $17.1 million, or 20 cents a share, from $15.9 million, or 18 cents, a year earlier. Earnings were in line with analyst expectations.

Sales for the three months ended Aug. 3 increased 6.9 percent to $486.2 million from $454.9 million.

“Clearly, our customers are reacting positively to our brand, to our assortment and to our marketing, which combine to lay a solid foundation for further progress in the second half of the year,” said Michael Weiss, chairman and chief executive officer, on a conference call with analysts.

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“Taking a big picture view of our fashion, I continue to believe that we are firmly on target with our key looks and big ideas, and while traffic continues to be a challenge, I am encouraged by the fact that we have continued to see a very healthy uptick in our conversion rate,” he said.

The retailer now expects diluted earnings per share of $1.52 to $1.60 this year, up from the $1.48 to $1.58 projected in May.

However, Weiss did sound a note of caution.

“What remains to be seen now is how promotional the mall becomes, which, of course, is the wild card we can’t control,” he said. “We are, however, prepared for a highly promotional environment, and under any set of circumstances, we remain focused on delivering the high-quality, fashion-right products.”

Express shares gained 6.6 percent to close at $21.10 on Wednesday.