SEATTLE — Clothing retailer Nordstrom Inc. said Thursday that its fiscal first-quarter profit rose nearly 26%, as the company continued to make progress in controlling expenses, managing its inventory and improving its merchandise.
The results beat Wall Street expectations and pleased investors, sending Nordstrom shares higher in after-hours trading.
For the quarter ended April 29, Nordstrom earned $131.2 million, or 48 cents a share. That compared with earnings of $104.5 million, or 38 cents, a year earlier.
Sales at the Seattle-based retailer rose to $1.79 billion, up 8% from $1.65 billion in the year-earlier period.
Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $1.77 billion.
Nordstrom said sales at stores open at least a year increased 5.4%, beating the company's expectations. That was due in part to stronger-than-expected sales of accessories, cosmetics and men's apparel.
For its current second quarter, Nordstrom said it expected to earn 59 cents to 64 cents a share. Analysts had been expecting per-share earnings of 62 cents.
Nordstrom raised its guidance for the full fiscal year ending Feb. 3, saying it expected to earn $2.24 to $2.32 a share, including 6 cents in stock option expenses. The company said the increased guidance was partly because of the better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.
Analysts had projected earnings of $2.26 a share, according to Thomson Financial.
In coming months, company President Blake Nordstrom said, the retailer will work to further improve its women's apparel offerings and offer more high-end designer merchandise.
Analyst Neely Tamminga of Piper Jaffray & Co. said the company was doing a good job of providing shoppers hungry for brand-name items with the right products, giving it a competitive edge.
Nonetheless, she said, the company is right to focus on improving its women's apparel business, which has been erratic.
"We believe, and they agree, that they can be doing much better in that area," she said.
Nordstrom shares gained 18 cents to $35.50 in regular trading. The stock rose 78 cents, or 2.2%, after hours. The stock has traded in a range of $28.90 to $42.90 in the last year.