Christopher & Banks Corp. said late Wednesday that its third-quarter earnings climbed 76.1 percent, but came in at the low end of its own recently raised projections, and below analysts’ estimates, due in part to a higher-than-expected tax rate.

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Shares, up 2.5 percent to $7.66 during the day, fell 11.2 percent in early after-hours trading.

For the period ended Nov. 28, the Minneapolis-based firm posted net income of $7 million, or 19 cents a diluted share, up from $4 million, or 11 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue slid 7.7 percent for the quarter, to $132 million from $143 million, and fell 8.4 percent on a same-store basis.

Analysts polled by Yahoo were looking for earnings per share of 21 cents on sales of $132 million after the company said last month that it expected earnings of between 19 cents and 21 cents a share. The 29.6 percent tax rate for the quarter was above the 22 percent assumed in C&B’s last guidance.

“While traffic remained challenging during the third quarter, we benefited from improved conversion rates and in average transaction value as compared to last year,” president and chief executive officer Lorna Nagler said on the company earnings call. “We also saw a sequential improvement in both these metrics over the prior quarter. These impacts were largely the result of progress made in refining our merchandise assortment in conjunction with leaner and fresh inventory levels.”

Gross margin improved over 500 basis points to 40.8 percent of sales, and inventory per store fell 23 percent. Overall expenses were trimmed $21.5 million to $122.2 million.

While the retailer did not provide earnings or sales projections, the company said it would continue to “plan conservatively for fiscal 2010 given the economic environment.” As a result, same-store sales are expected to decline in the high-single digits in the fourth quarter. Inventory per store for the quarter is predicted to be up slightly on a percentage basis, while selling, general and administrative expenses are projected to be cut by $2 million.

Net income for the nine months ended Nov. 28 slumped 59.4 percent to $6.5 million, or 18 cents a diluted share, from $16.1 million, or 46 cents in 2008. Revenues slid 17.2 percent to $353.5 million from $426.9 million a year earlier.

At the end of the quarter, the firm operated 812 stores.

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