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Zale holiday sales metric up 2.3 pct, backs view

DALLAS (AP) -- Zale Corp. said Thursday that a key sales measure rose 2.3 percent during the critical holiday shopping season, and the jewelry chain still expects to post a profit this year.

Zale hasn't posted an annual profit since 2008. Its fiscal year ends in July.

Its revenue at stores open at least a year rose 2.3 percent during the holiday shopping season. November and December are important for retailers because they often make up a substantial chunk of the year's revenue. The sales metric, meanwhile, is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes sales at stores that recently opened and closed.

Total revenue was almost unchanged at $567 million in November and December, however, because the company has fewer stores than it did a year ago.

Zale said that revenue at its namesake brand jewelry and outlet stores open at least a year rose 3.1 percent during the holiday shopping season, while its U.S. fine jewelry brands posted a 2.2 percent increase. The same metric rose 2.7 percent at its Canadian fine jewelry brands. At Piercing Pagoda, the company's kiosk jewelry business, it rose 1.7 percent..