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Vera Bradley raises 4Q and fiscal-year estimates

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- Handbag and accessories company Vera Bradley Inc. said Tuesday fourth-quarter results will be better than forecast despite lower-than-expected store traffic because of improved margins.

The company said it expects greater net income and revenue for both the fiscal fourth quarter and the full year, and while customer traffic during the holiday season was not as strong as it expected, its business was more profitable. Gross margins rose by about 140 basis points, the company said, ahead of an expected improvement of 130 basis points.

Shares of Vera Bradley rose 41 cents to $23 on Tuesday. In after-hours trading the stock added $1.96, or 8.5 percent, to $24.96.

Vera Bradley now forecasts net income of 56 to 58 cents per share and $149 million to $154 million in revenue in the fourth quarter. It had expected net income of 55 to 57 cents per share and $147 million to $152 million in sales.

Analysts were projecting income of 57 cents per share and revenue of $151.9 million, according to FactSet.

As a result, the company now expects to report a profit of $1.64 to $1.66 per share and revenue of $528 million to $533 million for its current fiscal year, which ends in late January.

Analysts were expecting net income of $1.64 per share and $529.8 million in revenue, on average.

Vera Bradley is scheduled to report its quarterly and full-year results after the market closes on March 14.