Zale Corp. appointed Beryl Raff, president and chief operating officer, as its new chief executive, making her one of a very few women to lead a major U.S. company. Raff, 47, replaces Robert J. DiNicola, who led a turnaround of the once-struggling jewelry chain over the last five years. He will remain chairman. The news came as Dallas-based Zale said its earnings rose 15% in its fiscal fourth quarter to $8.5 million, or 23 cents a share, beating analysts' forecasts by 2 cents, on a 16% jump in sales to $326 million. DiNicola. 51, is credited with rebuilding Zale into an industry powerhouse. Analysts said DiNicola's decision to give up the CEO's title he has held since April 1994 was surprising but didn't signal changes at the company. Zale shares rose $2.31 to $37.50 on the NYSE.