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Express 1Q results top Street, lifts outlook

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Clothing company Express Inc.'s net income fell 23 percent in the first quarter as it discounted more and dealt with higher costs for purchasing and store occupancy. But its results still topped analysts' estimates.

The retailer, which sells men's and women's clothing and accessories, also lifted its full-year earnings forecast due to its quarterly performance and upbeat view on the second quarter.

For the period ended May 4, Express Inc. earned $32.4 million, or 38 cents per share. That's down from $42.1 million, or 47 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts expected earnings of 36 cents per share, according to a FactSet poll.

The chain said that its cost of goods sold, buying and occupancy costs rose to $337.7 million from $307.2 million.

Revenue climbed 3 percent to $508.5 million from $496 million, with online sales surging 48 percent. This beat Wall Street's estimate of $498 million.

Chairman and CEO Michael Weiss said in a statement that shoppers responded well to its spring product assortment.

Revenue at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer's health, were flat. The figure rose 4 percent in last year's quarter. This metric excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

For the year, Express now predicts earnings in a range of $1.48 to $1.58 per share. Previously, the company forecast $1.40 to $1.54 per share.

Analysts are looking for earnings of $1.53 per share.

The chain anticipates second-quarter earnings between 17 cents and 21 cents per share. Wall Street expects 14 cents per share.

Express currently runs 620 stores in the U.S, Canada and Puerto Rico.