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SEATTLE-Nordstrom officials touted a strong second quarter during a conference call late Thursday, reporting net earnings of $180.4 million, or 71 cents per share, compared with $178.8 million in net earnings, or 67 cents per share, for the same period in 2006. Same-store sales also saw an increase, the executives said, and the company looks forward to opening three new stores in the third quarter.

The executives said the second quarter exceeded company goals, during months when other retailers have reported lackluster results, blaming the economy and a colder early summer period. The ace-in-the-hole for Nordstrom, said president Blake Nordstrom during the call, was an annual anniversary sale in July that is bringing in about as much customer attention as Christmas. “Our business continues to experience positive momentum, and our designer and accessories lines are our top performers. The passion for the hottest brands and styles remains strong,” he said in the call.

Same store sales increased 5.9% during the quarter, though the firm saw a 9.5% increase in January. As with many retailers, the company expects its same-store sales increases to drop to 2% to 3% by Q4, ending the year averaging an increase of 5% to 6%.

The company, which has 153 Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Jeffrey and other stores in 27 states, expects to open three Nordstrom stores in the third quarter. These include a 144,000-sf store at the Natick Collection in Natick, MA on Sept. 7; a 165,000-sf store at 12 Oaks Mall in Novi, MI on Sept. 28 and a 138,000-sf store at Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver on Oct. 19. More stores are opening in other cities, including Sarasota, FL, Las Vegas and Austin, but trying to dispel rumors that have raged for years, a company spokesman said during the call that there are “no updates on a Manhattan store” at this point.

Also during Q3, the company will close on the $210 million sale of its 41-store Faconnable chain, with most of the stores in Europe. Lebanon-based M1 Group is buying the boutique chain.

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