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Aug 21, 2008
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Bebe Q4 beats market view; Q1 outlook below estimates

Aug 21, 2008

Aug 21 (Reuters) - Women's-apparel retailer Bebe Stores Inc posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher merchandise margins, but forecast first-quarter earnings below market estimates.

Bebe Stores 2008

The company expects earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2009 to be 12 cents to 16 cents a share, trailing analysts' average estimate of 17 cents a share.

For the first quarter, the company is currently planning finished goods inventory to be down on a per square foot basis compared with the first quarter of fiscal 2008 in the high single digit range.

For the fourth-quarter ended July 5, the company reported net income of $16.0 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with $19.7 million, or 21 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net sales at the company, whose rivals include Wet Seal Inc , rose 5 percent to $171.5 million.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 17 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $168.5 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, fell 5.6 percent for the quarter.

The company expects first-quarter same-store sales to fall in the high single-digit range.

Shares of the Brisbane, California-based company were down 3 percent at $10.15 in trading after the bell. They had closed down 1 percent at $10.50 Thursday on Nasdaq.

Bebe shares fell about 4 percent in after-hours trading. They closed at $10.50 in regular trading Thursday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Anne Pallivathuckal in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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