Vera Bradley Inc.'s stock soared 21% in premarket trade, after the maker of specialty handbags, accessories and travel items reported better-than-expected fiscal second-quarter results and provided an upbeat outlook. For the quarter ended Aug. 1, earnings fell to $5.7 million, or 15 cents a share, from $7.6 million, or 19 cents a share, in the same period a year ago, but beat the FactSet earnings-per-share consensus of 10 cents. Revenue rose to $120.7 million from $119 million, above the FactSet consensus of $115 million. "Our comparable sales trend began to improve toward the end of the quarter, which we believe is reflective of our new product offerings, improved in-store execution, and our initial marketing efforts," said Chief Executive Robert Wallstrom. "Our better than planned revenues were generated in spite of reduced promotional activity." For the third quarter, the company expects revenue of $120 million to $123 million, above the FactSet consensus of $117.6 million, and EPS of 19 cents to 21 cents, compared with expectations of 15 cents. Gross margin is expected to improve to 46.5% to 47% from 42.5% a year ago. The stock has tumbled 26% over the past three months through Tuesday, while the S&P 500 has lost 9.3%.
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