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LNT ekes past consensus estimate

CLIFTON, N.J. — Linens 'n Things, which had been expected by analysts to post a loss for the first quarter ended April 3, today reported a fully diluted profit of $30,000, or zero cents per share, vs. a profit of $2.1 million, or 5 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had originally anticipated LNT would show a loss of 2 cents per share.

Without an accounting change related to how vendor allowances are recorded, LNT would have posted a profit of $4.9 million, or 11 cents per share.

Sales rose 15 percent to $480.5 million, and comps grew 4.7 percent.

During a conference call this morning to discuss results, executives said the retailer's textiles business has been rebounding.

"We are encouraged by the solid comp sales performance in our textiles business," said William Giles, executive vice president, chief financial officer. "It is worth highlighting that the first quarter represented the strongest performance for our overall textiles business in several quarters."

Fashion bedding, Giles went on to say, was credited as the driving force of the product area's growth, resulting from LNT's efforts to offer "more balanced assortments of fashion and value" goods as well as successes seen with some of the store's core bedding brands, most notably Nautica, Wamsutta and Waverly. As a result, LNT is moving forward with the continued roll out to the entire chain of its Liz Claiborne fashion bedding collection.

In bath, LNT is "finishing cycling through the transitions," Giles explained, of the Royal Velvet and Fieldcrest brands, which he said continue to impact the store's bath businesses. However, he added, LNT expects the towel business to improve through the second quarter.

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