Express 4th-quarter performance tops analysts' estimates; gives 1Q, 2015 forecasts

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Express said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell as some expenses increased, but its results topped analysts' expectations.

The clothing and accessories company earned $41.8 million, or 49 cents per share, for the period ended Jan. 31. That compares with $47.9 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 46 cents per share.

Total operating expenses rose to $153.5 million from $143.7 million. Interest expense increased to $6 million from $5.1 million.

Revenue rose to $725.8 million from $715.9 million, with online sales up 4 percent. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $714.2 million in revenue.

President and CEO David Kornberg said in a statement that sales picked up substantially in the last two weeks of December and remained strong through the rest of the quarter.

Comparable sales, which include online sales, dipped 2 percent.

For the year, Express reported earnings of 81 cents per share on revenue of $2.17 billion.

Going forward, the company foresees its first-quarter adjusted profit in a range of 11 cents to 14 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet predict 11 cents per share.

The chain anticipates a 2015 adjusted profit between 93 cents and $1.07 per share. Analysts expect 99 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Express Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio, operates about 640 stores that sell merchandise for men and women.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on EXPR at http://www.zacks.com/ap/EXPR

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Keywords: Express, Earnings Report

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