AnnTaylor Stores surprised investors yesterday forecasting a better-than-expected first quarter, with management saying that earnings per share could come in between 45 cents and 47 cents, up from a previously predicted 35 cents to 40 cents. The outlook rose shares 10%.Granted, Q1 same-store sales were down 4.3%, plunging 11.5% at Ann Taylor units and inching up 0.7% at Loft, but this is favorable news during a time when we aren’t hearing too many good things about the apparel sector. We know that Ann Taylor is a big topic in the industry right now. Why? Because we get tons of hits on our blog from people searching about Ann Taylor store closings on Google. In fact, this post is our most popular since the blog began at the beginning of the year.Management at Ann Taylor has not pulled back plans to close 117 stores, and the new chain it is launching for the “modern boomer” is still delayed. But are we seeing the beginnings of a turnaround at the company that could signify a change for all of apparel?

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