NEW YORK — As Aéropostale Inc. posted flat year-over-year earnings on a 16.4 percent sales gain for the first quarter, management said on a conference call the company is positioning itself to bolster its top line via new marketing and merchandising efforts.

For the quarter ended April 29, the teen specialty retailer said net income was $8.4 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, which compares with $8.6 million, or 15 cents, in the prior year. Earnings per share were offset by a 1 cent charge relating to the expensing of stock options. Sales rose to $246.3 million from $211.7 million last year. Same-store sales declined 2.9 percent.

Julian R. Geiger, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the company “controlled both the level of our inventories and the depth of our promotions. In addition, we have improved the balance of our merchandise assortment, integrating more fashion-forward looks into our mix. We think that this approach will enable us to capitalize on our future opportunities.”

On the conference call with analysts last Thursday, Geiger said “this initiative has been a contributor to the increase in our average unit retail and to the growth in our merchandise margins. To highlight this balance in our merchandise assortments, we ran our first print campaign in March in Seventeen, Teen People and CosmoGirl! We will be extending this campaign to Teen Vogue and SI On Campus over the summer.”

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.