Maternity wear retailer Destination Maternity has today (9 October) lifted its fourth-quarter earnings target as autumn merchandise sales were better-than-expected.

Net sales reached US$128.5m during the fourth quarter ended 30 September, compared to $129.4m last year. The company said the decline was because of efforts to close under-performing stores and its licensed relationship. Comparable sales increased 2.7% against a 1.7% decline the year before.

CEO Ed Krell said: "We are very pleased with the improvement of our sales performance for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, which was driven by strong sales of our fall 2012 merchandise assortments."

As a result, the retailer expects fourth-quarter diluted earnings per share to exceed the top end of its prior earnings guidance of between $0.17 and $0.28 per share and to exceed last year's fourth-quarter diluted earnings of $0.20 per share.

The maternity retailer, which operates under its Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod, and Destination Maternity brands, said net sales for the full year fell 0.7% to $541.5m, while comparable sales edged down 0.3%.