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The Limited Inc., the upscale women's apparel retailer, today said it plans to split its business into two separate entities, one based on its lingerie and personal care businesses, the other on women's fashion apparel.

Industry analysts praised the move, saying it will release the hidden value of the company's fast-growing specialty stores.

"The market is not giving the company credit, or adequate credit, for the growth businesses because the numbers are buried" in the figures for the overall business, said Barry Bryant, analyst at Ladenburg , Thalmann.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company said each entity would be 85 to 90 percent owned by Limited, with the balance owned by stockholders.

One new entity is expected to contain the company's specialty lingerie and personal care businesses -- Victoria's Secret Stores, Victoria's Secret Catalogue, Bath & Body Works, Cacique, Penhaligon's and Gryphon.

The other is likely to contain its larger women's fashion apparel businesses -- Express, Limited, Lerner New York and Lane Bryant, it said.

Limited said it would continue to own new ventures and other businesses, including Structure, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Limited Too, Henri Bendel and Mast Industries.

Steven Kernkraut, retailing analyst at Bear Stearns, said Limited's plan is a good move. "I think it's phenomenal news," he said.

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