Teen specialty retailer Aeropostale exceeded expectations for sales and profits in the first quarter and projected another strong performance in the current period.

In the 13 weeks ended 5 May, net income skyrocketed 64.4% to US$13.8m, or $0.26 a diluted share, from $8.4m, or $0.15, a year ago. The consensus estimate for the first quarter was for EPS of $0.25.

Sales advanced 12%, to $275.8m from $246.3m, and were up 2.5% on a same-store basis.

Julian Geiger, chairman and CEO, pointed out: "Our accomplishments for the quarter also reflect improvements we have made in our planning process and in our inventory management.

"As a result of the consistent execution of our strategic initiatives, we achieved strong increases in our gross margins and we ended the quarter with record earnings."

Gross margin in the quarter picked up to 32.2% of sales from 28.6% a year ago.

Aeropostale provided second quarter guidance for earnings in the range of $0.26 to $0.28 a diluted share, well above the $0.21 consensus estimate.

The company noted that between $0.04 and $0.06 in projected second quarter EPS will result from a shift in the timing of the back-to-school season, income that in 2006 fell into the third quarter.

The company, based in New York, operates 757 Aeropostale stores in 47 states and 14 Jimmy'Z units in 11 states.
 
By Arnold J Karr.