Leading women's fashion chain AnnTaylor Stores Corp on Wednesday posted a healthy 16 per cent rise in second quarter profit from the year-ago period as it was boosted by strong sales growth.

The New York-based firm posted net income of $21.2 million, or 45 cents a share, for the quarter ended August 2, compared with $18.2m, or 39 cents a share, in the same period of the prior fiscal year.

Net sales climbed 14 per cent to $390.2m from $343.1m with same-store sales up 5.3 per cent. By division, same-store sales were up 4.9 per cent for Ann Taylor and ahead 5.7 per cent at Ann Taylor Loft.

The operator of more than 600 stores said it expects third quarter earnings in the range of 57 to 61 cents a share, fourth quarter earnings of 41 to 43 cents a share and full year earnings in the range of $1.82 to $1.88 a share.

Ann Taylor chairman J Patrick Spainhour said: "The second quarter was propelled by positive comparable store sales each month for both divisions other than a slight negative comparable store sales percentage in June for Ann Taylor.

"Ann Taylor's positive comparable store sales for the quarter were driven by strategically managed promotions that helped optimise selling of product that continued to border on being too safe, lacking colour and sophistication.

"We remain comfortable with current earnings per share guidance for the fall season … (and) expect August, September and October, comparable store sales to be in the range of positive three to positive five per cent for both divisions."