US retailer Talbots Inc. has this week reported that quarterly earnings have dropped as much higher expenses outweighed higher sales. Although the company reported improved fourth-quarter sales during the post-holiday clearance sales, Talbots' has also issued full-year 2005 forecasts below Wall Street estimates.

Earnings for the quarter ending 29 January dropped to $16 million (GBP 8,99 million) from $22 million in the same period the year before. Net sales climbed 11 per cent to $470.7 million, up from $422.7 million last year. According to First call, this result was in line with analysts' expectations of $479 million. Same-store sales for the fourth quarter rose 4.4 percent, and catalog sales jumped 20 percent to $69.7 million.

According to Talbots Chairman and CEO Arnold Zetcher "much of this strength came form robust markdown selling throughout our very successful post-Christmas semi-annual clearance event, which helped clear excess inventory." Talbots said it plans to open approximately 50 new stores in 2005, having opened 75 in 2004.


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