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Women's specialty apparel retailer Ann Taylor lifts Q1 guidance
May '08
AnnTaylor Stores Corporation announced that it now expects earnings per diluted share for the first quarter will exceed its previous guidance range, due primarily to stronger results at LOFT and better overall expense and inventory management.

Based upon preliminary figures, the Company's net sales in the fiscal first quarter ended May 3, 2008 increased 2% to approximately $592 million, versus net sales of $580 million in the first quarter ended May 5, 2007.

Comparable store sales for the quarter declined 4.3%, with the Ann Taylor division down 11.5% and the LOFT division up 0.7%.

The Company indicated that it currently expects earnings per diluted share for the quarter, excluding previously-announced restructuring costs, to be approximately $0.45-0.47, versus its previous guidance range of $0.35-0.40 per diluted share.

The improvement in the Company's earnings per diluted share outlook for the quarter largely reflects stronger results at LOFT, as well as better overall expense and inventory management and the benefit of the Company's share repurchase program.

The Company indicated that its inventory per square foot was down approximately 15% at the end of the quarter, with both Ann Taylor and LOFT down significantly.

Commenting on the announcement, Ann Taylor President and Chief Executive Officer Kay Krill stated, "We are very pleased with our performance in the first quarter, particularly in light of the ongoing macroeconomic softness and the challenges that virtually all consumer products companies are facing.

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