Gap 1Q Beats on Strong U.S. Demand, Lifts Forecast

Gap (NYSE:GPS) reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit and lifted its profit view late Thursday, as demand for its Old Navy, Banana Republic and Gap brands continued to ramp up in the U.S.

The stellar results led the company to lift its fiscal 2012 earnings view to a range of $1.78 to $1.83 a share, representing a year-over-year increase of 14% to 17% from $1.56, though analysts on average are still expecting higher earnings of $1.96.

For the current quarter, Gap anticipates earnings of 47 cents, an 18% year-over-year increase, and above the Street’s view of 37 cents.

The San Francisco-based retail chain reported net income in its latest quarter of $233 million, or 47 cents, flat from the year-earlier period, but up about seven cents on a per-share basis.

Analysts in a Thomson Reuters poll were looking for a profit of 46 cents.

Revenue for the three months ended April 28 was up 6% to $3.5 billion compared with $3.3 billion a year ago, narrowly topping the Street’s view of $3.48 billion. Gap and international markets led the growth, with total sales climbing 18% to $410 million at the namesake retail store.

Regions outside North America increased total sales to 13% to $511 million despite a 4% decline in comparable sales. In North America, however, comparable sales were up across Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.

“During the quarter, we improved sales, grew earnings per share, and continued investing in the business to drive performance,” Gap CEO Glenn Murphy said in a statement.

Shares of Gap ticked higher after hours despite ending the regular session down more than 2%.