Shares of Children's Place Inc. surged 7.7% in active premarket trade Wednesday, after the children's apparel retailer doubled its dividend, boosted its stock buyback program and beat fiscal fourth-quarter profit expectations. The company said the new quarterly dividend of 40 cents a share, up from 20 cents a share, is payable May 1 to shareholders of record on April 10. The company also approved a new $250 million share repurchase program. "This dividend increase and the new share repurchase authorization reflect our confidence in our ability to execute on our strategic initiatives and our continuing commitment to return excess capital to shareholders," said Chief Executive Jane Elfers. Separately, the company reported earnings for the quarter to Jan. 28 that rose to $34.2 million, or $1.86 a share, from $17.5 million, or 87 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to $1.88, well above the FactSet consensus of $1.59. Revenue increased to $520.8 million from $498.5 million, just shy of the FactSet consensus of $522.1 million, while same-store sales growth of 6.9% beat expectations of a 6.8% increase.
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