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Talbots Profit Climbs 13 Percent in Q4

May 19, 2004

HINGHAM, Mass. (AP) _ The Talbots Inc. on Wednesday posted a 13 percent rise in profit for its latest quarter, led by solid sales growth at its core women’s business.

The Hingham-based clothing chain reported net income of $33.3 million, or 58 cents a share, for the first quarter ended May 1, compared with $29.4 million, or 51 cents a share, a year earlier.

The latest results topped the estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call for earnings of 57 cents a share.

Sales rose 6.1 percent in the latest quarter to $419 million from $395 million, paced by a 7.4 percent increase in sales at its retail stores.

The solid performance, however, was offset by weakness in Talbots Kids and dresses. Markdowns resulted in sales growth of 1.7 percent at stores open at least a year, the company said.

Talbots said it plans to increase its marketing budget ``well above historical levels″ in the second quarter to help drive continued sales growth.

For the first time, the company said, it will promote its semiannual clearance event slated for June with television advertising in eight major markets.

Shares of Talbots closed Wednesday at $32.64, down 36 cents, or 1.1 percent, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Talbots has more than 890 stores, mainly based in malls.

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