Express Earnings Match Expectations

Columbus, Ohio.-based Express (NYSE: EXPR  ) shares soared today after the teen-oriented retailer reported earnings that matched analyst expectations on the bottom line, and beat on the top.

Express announced today that fiscal Q2 2013 earnings came in at $0.20 per share, up 11% in comparison to Q2 2012, and matching the consensus forecast. Q2 sales of $486 million barely beat expectations of $485 million, and were up more than 7% in comparison to last year. Same-store sales grew 6%, including wildfire growth in the company's e-commerce division, where sales grew 27% to $60 million, about 12% of all revenues collected by the company in the quarter.

In profit margins news, Express' gross margin declined 80 basis points year-over-year, but this was offset by an 80-basis-point improvement in selling, general, and administrative expenses, as a percentage of sales. As a result, operating profit margin at Express held steady at 6.9%.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Weiss characterized the second quarter as "very solid." Going forward, Express is guiding investors to expect mid-single digits same-store sales growth, per-share profits ranging from $0.21 to $0.26, and a slight decline in shares outstanding as Express continues to buy back shares. During the quarter, the company repurchased approximately 600,000 shares of its common stock at an aggregate cost of $13.9 million, ending the second quarter with $21.1 million of its $100 million repurchase authorization still outstanding. Repurchases of an additional 1 million shares during the third quarter wrapped up the repurchase program.

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