Saks beats quarterly profit estimates

Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:57am EST

The outside of the Saks Fifth Avenue store is seen in New York October 8, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The outside of the Saks Fifth Avenue store is seen in New York October 8, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - Saks Inc SKS.N reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit helped by strong online sales, and forecast sales growth at its established luxury department stores, sending shares up 3 percent before the markets opened.

Saks has been of the primary beneficiaries of luxury's rebound, fueled by a stronger stock market and tourism to the United States.

The company expects sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, to rise 5 percent to 7 percent this fiscal year.

The luxury retailer said comparable sales at Saks Direct rose about 21 percent in the quarter.

However, comparable store sales at its outlet stores were below the company average for both the fourth quarter and the year, although sales trends improved in the second half of the year, it said.

Saks closed several of its department stores in the past two years and focused its expansion in its Saks Off 5th stores.

The retailer reported net income of $37 million, or 21 cents per hare, for the fourth quarter ended January 28, compared with a year-earlier profit of $25.0 million, or 14 cents per share, for the same period last year.

Excluding an after-tax gain, it earned 17 cents per share, while analysts, on average, were expecting it to make 14 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Same-store sales rose 7.7 percent, while overall sales rose to $925.1 million from $866.3 million a year before.

Saks shares were trading at $11.24 Tuesday before the bell. They closed at $10.87 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting By Phil Wahba in New York and Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Derek Caney)

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