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Abercrombie & Fitch Profit Rises as Sales Improve Across Chains

Apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co.said its quarterly profit rose due to higher sales at its namesake, Hollister and Ruehl chains.

First-quarter net income rose to $60.1 million, or 65 cents a share, from $56.2 million, or 62 cents a share, a year earlier.

The New Albany, Ohio-based retailer said quarterly net sales rose 13% to $742.4 million.

Abercrombie's net income was in line with Wall Street's expectations, but its sales measure fell short of the average analyst forecast.

Analysts, on average, were expecting Abercrombie to earn 65 cents a share for the quarter, on about $758 million in sales, according to Reuters Estimates.

Comparable store sales fell 4%.

"Despite the difficult selling conditions that impacted most retailers during this period, we enhanced each of our brands," Chief Executive Mike Jeffries said in a statement.

Net sales at Abercrombie stores rose 7% during the quarter, the company said.

At Ruehl, sales soared 84%, while sales at surf-inspired Hollister increased 19 percent.

Looking ahead, the company expects to raise the gross square footage of its stores by about 11% to 12%.

Abercrombie also sees earnings for the first half of 2007 in a range of $1.47 to $1.52 a share.

The low end of that forecast reflects a flat comparable store sales scenario during the second quarter, Abercrombie said.

The company is also planning full-year capital expenditures of between $395 million and $405 million, with about $220 million going towards new store construction and store remodeling.

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