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Gap's July same-store sales up surprising 10%
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Clothing retailer Gap Inc. said Thursday that July sales at stores open at least a year jumped 10 percent, easily surpassing analysts' expectations, and said second-quarter earnings would rise from last year's results.

The company said it expects earnings per share of 47 cents to 48 cents per share, up from 35 cents per share in last year's second quarter and above the 38 cents per share forecast from 25 analysts surveyed by FactSet. Gap will report second-quarter earnings on Aug. 16.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected Gap's July same-store sales to grow 3.8 percent, but they rose nearly three times that fast.

The figure on revenue at stores open at least a year is a key statistic in retailing because it excludes the effect of opening and closing stores.

The company's Gap stores posted a 13 percent increase, a reversal from last July's 6 percent decline. Banana Republic stores saw a gain of 8 percent compared with a 4 percent decrease last year, and Old Navy stores were up 12 percent from a drop of 3 percent a year ago.

Total sales in the four weeks ended July 28 rose about 12 percent to $1.06 billion from $950 million last July.

For the second quarter, revenue increased 6 percent to $3.58 billion, beating analysts' prediction of $3.51 billion. Same-store sales rose 4 percent.

Same-store sales for the full quarter rose 7 percent at Gap and Banana Republic and 3 percent at Old Navy. International same-store sales fell 5 percent in the quarter despite a pickup in July.

Chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy said the company was pleased with sales "and the continued positive trend we're experiencing in North America."

Some analysts have credited the company with improving the fashion and fit of its merchandise.

Shares of the San Francisco retailer closed at $29.42 on Wednesday, down 7 cents. They have ranged from $15.08 to $30.20 in the past year.