Citi Trends Inc. (CTRN), a leading value-priced retailer of urban fashion apparel and accessories, reported fiscal 2009 fourth quarter earnings of $11.3 million or $0.78 per share compared to $10.1 million or $0.69 in the year-earlier quarter.

For fiscal 2009, the company reported a net income of $19.7 million or $1.36 per share compared to $17.4 million or $1.20 in the previous fiscal. While fourth quarter earnings exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by three cents, fiscal 2009 earnings exceeded the same by two cents.

The earnings were primarily driven by a 15.8% increase in total sales during the quarter to $169.8 million from $146.6 million in the year-ago quarter. Same-store sales also increased 1.2% year-over-year, benefiting from the improved discretionary spending outlook of customers amid early signs of an economic recovery.

For fiscal 2009, total sales of Citi Trends increased 13.0% year over-year to $551.9 million, while same-store sales increased marginally by 0.6%.

The improvement in sales was also driven by prudent inventory management policies, merchandise selection in accordance with sales trends, and solid execution at the store level.

Operating income improved 18.4% during fiscal 2009 fourth quarter to $16.8 million (9.9% of sales) compared with $14.2 million (9.7% of sales) in the year-ago quarter. For fiscal 2009, operating income increased 27.4% to $29.4 million (5.3% of sales) versus $23.1 million (4.7% of sales) in the previous fiscal.

At fiscal 2009 year-end, Citi Trends had cash and cash equivalents of $63.0 million compared to $33.5 million in fiscal 2008. During the quarter, the company opened 11 new stores, bringing its total store count to 403 at fiscal year-end. For fiscal 2010, Citi Trends anticipates earnings per share in the range of $1.60 to $1.65, with a comparable store sales increase of 3% to 4%.

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