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American Eagle Outfitters Raises Q1 Guidance; Shares Surge (AEO)

Shares of American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO), a specialty retailer operating in the U.S. and Canada, are surging today after the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania-based company raised its first-quarter earnings guidance due to stronger sales and fewer promotions.

AEO shares rose to a new 52-week high of $20.89 in trading today. At last check, the stock was trading 16.60% higher at $20.86 on above average volume of 20.17 million.

The latest earnings forecast from AEO is well ahead of Street estimates. AEO now expects first-quarter profit to come in between $0.18 per share and $0.20 per share, compared with previous guidance of $0.08-$0.10 per share. Analysts, surveyed by FactSet, on average, expect the company to report a profit of $0.10 per share. For the same period in the previous year, AEO had reported a profit of $0.14 per share.

For the first quarter ended April 30, AEO’s revenue rose 18% to $719 million. Revenue at stores opened at least a year and online rose 17%. Analysts had forecast first quarter revenue of $655.3 million.

For the full year, American Eagle Outfitters expects a profit of $1.06-$1.12 per share. Revenue at stores open at least a year is expected to rise by a low-to-mid-single digit percentage.

Robert Hanson, CEO of American Eagle Outfitters, said that the team delivered on its near-term priorities of driving a competitive top-line and improving margins. Hanson said that AEO experienced broad-based strength in its spring merchandize selling, which enabled the company to pull back on full scale promotional plans. He said that looking ahead, AEO’s larger goal is to build upon its capabilities to deliver consistent profitable growth.

AEOwill release its full results on May 23,2012.

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