Christopher & Banks Corp. said late Thursday that cost controls and a renewed emphasis on value helped it post better-than-expected preliminary third-quarter results.

This story first appeared in the December 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

According to the Minneapolis-based firm, third-quarter earnings, which will be reported on Jan. 6, are expected to be between 19 cents and 21 cents a diluted share, which assumes an anticipated effective tax rate for the period of 22 percent. This compares with a 4-cent loss in the year-ago quarter. Sales are expected to total about $132 million, versus $143 million in 2008, as quarterly same-store sales slid 8.4 percent. Analysts projected a loss of 5 cents on sales of $123.9 million. Gross margin is expected to improve about 500 basis points from year-ago levels, to about 40.7 percent.

“Our performance reflects our ongoing efforts to enhance our merchandise assortment and deliver a strong value message at our two core businesses,” said president and chief executive officer Lorna Nagler, who also credited effective inventory management and selling, general and administrative cost reductions of more than $7 million.

The company operates 543 Christopher & Banks stores, 268 CJ Banks plus-size units and one dual-concept store.

The misses’ retailer said it expects the holiday season to be “very promotional,” and anticipates reporting a loss in the fourth quarter. Analysts predict a loss of 31 cents on $101.8 million in sales.