Limited Brands 1Q profit is better than expected

Clothing and personal care products retailer Limited Brands Inc. posted a surprise first-quarter profit on Wednesday, as its cost-cutting efforts offset lower sales.

The operator of the Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works chains also raised its full-year guidance. The shares jumped 59 cents, or 5 percent, to $12.25 in trading after hours, having closed at $11.66, down 29 cents, before the results were released.

Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands said its profit for the quarter that ended May 2 fell 97 percent to $2.6 million, or a penny per share, from $97.8 million, or 28 cents per share, last year.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $1.73 billion from $1.93 billion a year ago.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted a loss of 3 cents per share on slightly higher revenue of $1.75 billion. The company didn’t record any one-time items in this year’s first quarter, making its results comparable to analyst estimates, which generally exclude one-time items.

Sales in stores open at least one year, a key retail metric known as same-store sales, fell 7 percent during the quarter.

Limited has faced falling sales as consumers curb spending during the recession, but it has cut its costs in response. General, administrative and store operating expenses fell 11 percent during the quarter.

Limited now expects 2009 profit of 67 cents to 87 cents per share, up from earlier estimates of 60 cents to 85 cents per share. Analysts forecast profit of 74 cents per share, on average.

In the second quarter, the company predicts it will earn 11 cents to 16 cents per share, down from 27 cents per share a year ago but in line with analysts’ average estimate of 11 cents per share.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.