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Francesca's Profit Tops Estimate; Stock Up - Update

Apparel retailer Francesca's Holdings Corp. (FRAN), Tuesday reported a higher fourth-quarter profit, aided by strong same-store sales growth and robust demand for its clothing and jewelry. The company's earnings and sales for the quarter topped Street estimates.

Moving forward, the company provided strong sales outlook for the first quarter. Shares of the company are gaining 5 percent in after-hours trade on the Nasdaq.

"We delivered another quarter of strong growth and profitability as the company's differentiated shopping experience continues to resonate with new and existing customers...," said CEO Neill Davis.

Davis added, "Looking ahead, we continue our growth trajectory with 80 openings for fiscal 2013, reaching the milestone of over 400 locations by the end of the first quarter."

Houston, Texas-based Francesca's reported fourth-quarter net income of $14.9 million or $0.33 per share, up from $8 million or $0.19 per share last year.

On average, 14 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated earnings of $0.30 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Sales for the quarter rose 40.6 percent to $86.7 million from $61.7 million last year. Analysts on consensus estimated sales of $84.92 million for the quarter.

The revenue growth was led by a 9.2 percent comparable boutique sales increase, as well as strong growth in clothing and jewelry categories.

Gross margin for the quarter improved to 53.37 percent from 52.45 percent in the prior year.

For the first quarter, Francesca's expect earnings of $0.25 to $0.26 per share on sales of $79.5 million to $80.5 million. Analysts currently expect earnings of $0.26 per share on sales of $78.36 million for the quarter.

For the full year ending February 2014, the company expects earnings of $1.27 to $1.30 per share on sales of $365 million to $370 million. Analysts currently expect earnings of $1.27 per share for the year, on sales of $370.90 million.

The company's stock closed Tuesday at $26.98, down 1.68%, on a volume of 2 million shares. In after hours, the stock gained 4.97%.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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