Last updated 5:07 PM EST

Ann Taylor’s Improved Sales Double Earnings
NEW YORK — Spot-on fashion and well-managed inventories more than doubled AnnTaylor Stores Corp.’s first-quarter earnings on a 17 percent sales gain.

For the quarter ended April 29, the specialty retailer’s net income rose to $39 million, or 53 cents a diluted share, from $17 million, or 24 cents, in the prior year on sales that climbed to $556.2 million from $476.4 million.

Same-store sales gained 5.6 percent. By division, Ann Taylor’s comps showed a 7.4 percent increase while Ann Taylor Loft gained 4.7 percent. The gross margin rose to 56.66 percent in the quarter, which compares with 51.03 in the prior year. The company said total inventories were down 19 percent by the close of the quarter, which is on a per-square-foot basis, year-over-year.

Aeropostale Makes Headway With Merchandising Initiative
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.

For complete coverage, see Monday’s WWD.