Kohl's raises outlook as margins stay steady

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kohl's Corp <KSS.N> reported a higher quarterly profit on moderate sales gains as the department store chain kept gross margins steady despite rising cotton prices, and the retailer raised its full year profit forecast.

Kohl's net profit for the first quarter rose 6 percent to $211 million, or 73 cents a share, from $199 million, or 65 cents a year earlier. That was in line with Wall Street analyst estimates. Net sales were up 3.1 percent at $4.16 billion.

The operator of nearly 1,100 department stores expects full year earnings per share to be between $4.25 and $4.40, while analysts were expecting $4.36, as compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The new range compares to an earlier forecast range of $4.05 to $4.25.

For the current quarter, Kohl's expects to earn between 96 cents and $1.02 per share, compared to $1 estimated by Wall Street.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Derek Caney)