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Zale records impressive profit for 1Q 2006
Zale valued at 35 cents a share for fiscal third quarter ended April 30, 2006
By: Diamond World News Service
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May 18 2006 12:00AM
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Reference: 369  

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Zale Corp. posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on May 17, 2006 and its shares jumped to pleasing levels according to reports by Reuters. The jewelry retailer’s earnings in the current quarter would miss Wall Streets expectations as it works on improving results at its Zales stores. The company is bringing back more diamond jewelry and making other changes at its Zales stores for the winter season. Its sales for the recent Mothers Day holiday were impressive. The share value of Zale rose as much as 9% after falling to their lowest level since June 2003. Zale sale is encouraged by customer spending patterns at this point. The only potential concern could be at the lower priced Piercing Pagoda chain, where teenagers may choose to spend less as they grapple with higher gasoline costs and less disposable income.

Zale shares were hit a few months ago by the departures of key members of management such as the chief executive officer, an investigation into accounting by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and, most recently, the companys decision to place its chief financial officer on administrative leave. The CEO search is going well and Zale does not have any concerns that the SEC investigation has affected that search, Betsy Burton, Zales acting CEO, said during a call.

Profit was $16.8 million, or 35 cents a share, for the fiscal third quarter ended April 30, up from $14.5 million, or 28 cents a share, a year earlier. The results included a benefit of $8.4 million, or 17 cents per share, from the settlement of retirement benefit obligations. The benefit was partially offset by a charge for the chief operating officers severance pay of $2.2 million, or 4 cents per share, and a charge of $900,000, or 2 cents per share, due to the closing of certain Bailey Banks & Biddle stores. Excluding those items, the Dallas-based company earned $11.6 million, or 24 cents a share, exceeding the high end of its prior forecast by 2 cents a share. Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 21 cents per share on that basis, according to Reuters Estimates.

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