U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 7 mins

Limited's 3Q profit down but beats expectations

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Limited Brands Inc. reported a drop in its fiscal third-quarter profit as sales slipped, but it still managed to beat market expectations.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company that owns Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and other retailers earned $73.4 million, or 25 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Oct. 27. That is compared with $94.3 million, or 31 cents per share, earned in the third quarter last year.

It earned 26 cents per share versus 25 cents per share on an adjusted basis.

Limited's total revenue fell 5.7 percent to $2.05 billion from $2.17 billion. The year-earlier quarter included $258.7 million attributable to the company's third-party apparel sourcing business, which was sold in November 2011.

Revenue from its stores open at least a year, considered a key indicator of financial performance as it strips away recently opened and closed stores, increased 5 percent.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting the company to earn 24 cents per share on revenue of $2.05 billion.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects to earn $1.62 to $1.77 per share for its fourth quarter; analysts had forecast $1.76 per share. It forecast earnings of $2.78 to $2.93 per share for the full year, up from a prior range of $2.73 to $2.88 per share. Analysts had forecast $2.90 per share, on average.

Limited Brands also said Wednesday its board authorized the repurchase of up to $250 million in stock. The authorization includes $49.6 million remaining under the previous $500 million program.

Limited's shares fell 71 cents to close regular trading at $46.60 and dipped another 24 cents in after-hours trading following the news. Its stock has traded between $37.57 and $52.20 in the past 52 weeks.