Zale reports strong earnings, sales

Zale Corp. on Friday said Valentine’s Day sales were strong, signaling good results in the current quarter, Reuters reports.

The company also said earnings for the second quarter ended Jan. 31 rose to $99.2 million, from $97.3 million a year earlier.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key measure of retail performance, fell 0.6%, in line with the company’s revised outlook in January.

Total revenue rose 2.5% to $972 million.

Zale, which operates in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico as well as on the Internet, lowered its earnings estimates last month, Reuters reports. It said holiday sales were weaker than expected, specifically at its core Zales Jewelers division, which caters to moderate-income customers.

But in a conference call with analysts, Chief Executive Mary Forte said the company’s brands continued to show improvement, including Zales, which posted a rise in same-store sales over the Valentine’s Day period, Reuters reports.

Zale, whose brands also include Bailey Banks & Biddle, Gordon’s, and Piercing Pagoda, said it was sticking with its forecasts for the third and fourth quarters.

The Dallas company reportedly said it expected an increase of 2% to 3% in same-store sales for the third quarter. For the fourth quarter, Zale said it was still looking at a same-store sales rise of 2.5% to 3.5%.