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What: Shares of clothing retailer Chico's FAS (NYSE: CHS ) were dressed to the nines and charging higher today as investors boosted the shares as much as 18% in intraday trading after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings.
So what: If consumers aren't out shopping more, you wouldn't know it by looking at Chico's fourth-quarter numbers. For the quarter, the company notched total sales of $569 million, up nearly 20% from the prior year. Earnings per share, meanwhile, registered a 25% increase, to $0.15. Wall Street expected the company to earn just $0.11 per share on $547 million in revenue.
The top line was helped by an 8.7% jump in comparable-store sales. Operating margins increased and the company reduced share count by buying back its own shares, which helped drive the strong bottom-line results.
Now what: Not content to stop at reporting great past results, Chico's also gave a strong outlook for the year ahead. The company said it expects sales of roughly $2.5 billion, above the current analysts' estimate of $2.4 billion. Management also projected that declines in sales, general, and administrative spending would help offset further gross margin pressures.
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