NEW YORK — Guess outperformed its own estimates during the first quarter, as earnings soared 88.6 percent on strong sales.

“Our performance in the period exceeded our expectations and was driven by earnings growth in all of our business segments,” Paul Marciano, co-chairman and co-chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Our retail business’ strong comp performance contributed to significant profit growth.”

For the three months ended April 1, the Los Angeles-based company reported earnings of $15.4 million, or 34 cents a diluted share, compared with $8.2 million, or 18 cents, in the same period a year ago. The results were better than Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimate of 32 cents a share, and also beat guidance that management had issued a week earlier.

On May 3, the firm announced earnings results would be delayed because of an inquiry from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding how the company accounted for the acquisition of its European jeanswear licensee on last year’s 10K filing. Guess indicated that it expected to report profits of $13.5 million to $15 million, or 30 cents to 33 cents, a diluted share.

Revenues for the three months spiked 20.1 percent to $259 million, driven by double-digit gains in sales and royalties.

Sales rose 20 percent to $244.9 million from $204.2 million. Retail sales in the U.S. and Canada contributed $139 million, a 19.3 percent increase from the $116.5 million in the year-ago period, while European sales rose 32.7 percent to $75.2 million compared with $56.6 million. Comparable-store sales were up 13.9 percent during the quarter.

“This momentum accelerated in April with a same-store sales gain of 22.6 percent,” Marciano said.

Revenue generated from royalties grew 20.1 percent to $14 million from $11.4 million, with a strong performance in global sales of accessories.

“We are pleased that our revenues and earnings continue to become more diversified geographically as we execute our strategy,” Marciano said.

This story first appeared in the May 12, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.