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Gap key January revenue metric rises 8 percent

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Gap Inc. said Thursday that its January revenue at stores open at least a year rose 8 percent on strength in its North American stores, and its outlook for its holiday-season quarter topped analyst expectations.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected an increase of 4 percent. The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes revenue at stores that recently opened or closed.

The San Francisco-based retailer also said that it expects to post a fourth-quarter profit of 70 cents or 71 cents per share, up from 44 cents per share the year before. Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of 69 cents per share for the period, which ended Feb. 2.

Gap said fourth-quarter revenue rose 11 percent to $4.73 billion; analysts predicted $4.62 billion.

The months surrounding the Christmas holidays are a crucial time for retailers, as they can make up as much as 40 percent of their annual sales.

Shares rose 48 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $33.70 in premarket trading.

The company will release full fourth-quarter results on Feb. 28.

In January, revenue at stores open at least a year rose 12 percent at Old Navy North America and 8 percent at both the Gap and Banana Republic North America brands. The company's international stores posted a 1 percent increase.

For the five-week period ended Feb. 2, the company's total revenue rose 28 percent to $1.13 billion.

Gap, whose other brands include Piperlime and Athleta, has about 3,000 company-operated stores and about 300 franchise stores in 90 countries.