SUFFERN, NY-Strong momentum drove Dress Barn Inc.’s third quarter financial performance, said the chain’s president and CEO David Jaffe during the earnings conference call. The specialty apparel chain posted record sales and earnings, along with significant comp-store sales increases.

During the third quarter, Dress Barn’s net earnings increased 96% to a record $20 million, or 29 cents per diluted share, compared to $10.2 million, or 17 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter last year. Comp store sales increased 7% for the same period, the ninth consecutive quarter of gains. Jaffe said that the company saw increases across several merchandise categories for both its dressbarn and maurices brands. Dressbarn comp store sales jumped 10% and maurices increased 2%.

The company, which operates 798 dressbarn stores in 45 states and 530 maurices stores in 40 states, also released its May financials. Sales increased 13% to $118.4 million, compared to $104.7 million reported for May 2005. Comparable store sales increased 9% for the fiscal month of May.

As a result of the better-than-expected May sales performance, the company raised its earnings guidance per diluted share for fiscal year 2006 to approximately $1.10 from its previous earnings per share guidance of between $1.05 and $1.07. Moreover, the company estimates that comp store sales will increases in the 3%-range.

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