Originally created 08/20/04

Limited Brands earnings rise 45 percent



COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Limited Brands reported a better-than-expected 45 percent jump in second-quarter earnings, helped by successful semi-annual sales at Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works chains.

But shares fell nearly 2 percent in morning trading Thursday as the company warned that August sales are running slightly below expectations, due to sluggish business in its apparel group.

The Columbus,Ohio-based company earned $148 million, or 31 cents per share, for the quarter that ended July 31, compared with $102 million, or 19 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding a special gain of 2 cents per share from Limited's sale of its remaining interest in the Galyan's Trading Company, the company earned 29 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 25 cents a share.

Sales rose 10 percent to $2.2 billion, from $2 billion a year ago.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year, increased 9 percent in the quarter. Same-store sales are considered the best indicator of a retailer's health.

For the first six months, Limited earned $244.6 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with earnings of $199.5 million, or 38 cents a share, a year ago.

Sales were up 9 percent to $4.2 billion from $3.9 billion a year ago.

Same-store sales increased 8 percent for six-month period.

Limited Brands also announced Thursday the appointment of two new leaders for the Victoria's Secret Beauty business. Jill Granoff was named chief operating officer and Sherry Baker will serve as president. They succeed Robin Burns, who retired last week.

Limited Brands operates 3,836 stores under the names of Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, Express, Express Men's, Limited Stores, White Barn Candle Co. and Henri Bendel.

On the Net:

Limited Brands: http://www.limitedbrands.com