Helped by improved margins and sales, Rue 21 Inc. Thursday posted a 65.2 percent jump in first-quarter profits and raised its guidance for the year.

 

For the period ended April 30, Rue’s net income totaled $9.6 million, or 38 cents a diluted share, compared with income of $5.8 million, or 23 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

 

Net sales increased 25.5 percent, to $172.9 million from $137.8 million a year earlier, as same-store sales for the quarter expanded 5.2 percent.

 

Analysts expected EPS of 29 cents on sales of $166.4 million, Yahoo Finance said.

 

Gross margin increased 100 basis points to 38.9 percent of sales, versus year-ago margin of 37.9 percent.

 

“We take a prudent approach to the business, we are realistic about our opportunities, and we are focused on delivering our annual and long-term goals,” said president and chief executive officer Bob Fisch.

 

The Warrendale, Pa.-based retailer said it anticipates second-quarter profits to be between 30 and 32 cents a share. Annual guidance was raised to between $1.50 and $1.54 a share, up from earnings ranging from $1.40 to $1.44 a share.

 

Analysts are looking for second-quarter EPS of 31 cents and 2011 EPS of $1.43 a share.

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