Women's apparel retailer AnnTaylor Stores Corporation has posted a 16.7% net sales increase to $556.2m for the first quarter of the 2006 financial year.

Net income stood at $39.0m, or $0.53 per share on a diluted basis, compared to net income of $17.0m, or $0.24 per share on a diluted basis, during the same period last year. Same-store sales for the quarter increased 5.6%.

Selling, general and administrative expenses during the first quarter were $251.6m, or 45.25% of net sales, compared to $215.7m for the same period last year.

During the first quarter, the company opened one Ann Taylor store, eight Ann Taylor LOFT stores and one Ann Taylor Factory store, while six existing Ann Taylor stores, three Ann Taylor LOFT stores and one Ann Taylor Factory store were closed.

The company also announced a 2006 guidance increase by $0.10 per diluted share and is currently comfortable with a range of $1.70-$1.75.

Kay Krill, president and CEO of Ann Taylor, said: "We have been working diligently over the past year to execute on initiatives designed to deliver profitable growth by providing our client with brand-appropriate and trend-right product while carefully managing our inventory. In the first quarter we did just that at both Ann Taylor and LOFT.

"Our first quarter performance was outstanding, and I am delighted to report that both operating and net income more than doubled from last year's first quarter. Based on this strong performance, we are raising our annual earnings per share guidance by $0.10 per diluted share."