UPDATE 1-Stage Stores Q2 profit beats Street, to buy back stock

Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:15am EDT

* Q2 EPS $0.27 vs est $0.26

* Revenue trails estimates

* Sees 2010 EPS $0.90-$0.96 vs est $0.91

* To repurchase up to $25 million of common stock

* Shares rise 14 pct

Aug 19 (Reuters) - Stage Stores Inc (SSI.N) reported a higher quarterly profit that beat analysts' estimates on better inventory management, and the department store operator said it would buy back up to $25 million of its common stock, sending its shares up 14 percent.

"Inventories were well managed throughout the quarter and drove a better-than-expected 90 basis point improvement in our gross profit rate," Chief Executive Andy Hall said in a statement.

The company, which mainly caters to customers in rural towns across 39 states, earned $10.3 million, or 27 cents a share, for the second quarter, up from $9.1 million, or 24 cents a share, a year ago. [ID:nASA00O8V]

Stage Stores, however, cut the upper end of its 2010 earnings-per-share view by 4 cents. It now sees earnings in the range of 90-96 cents a share.

Larger peers J.C. Penney Co (JCP.N) and Kohl's Corp (KSS.N), which reported quarterly results last week, had also sounded cautious for the rest of the year as uncertainty over consumer spending loomed over the highly-competitive retail apparel space. [ID:nN13230095] [ID:nN12261485]

Houston-based Stage Stores' shares, which have lost about 33 percent of their market value in the last three months, rose $1.44 to $12.14 Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Renju Jose in Bangalore; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal)

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