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Holidays boost Macy's profit 12%

A strong holiday shopping season and online sales pushed up Macy's fourth quarter net income 12 percent. That topped Wall Street's expectations, and the department store chain's stock hit a 52-week high.

Macy's, which runs upscale Bloomingdale's as well as Macy's stores, has been outperforming midprice peers such as Kohl's and J.C. Penney, which will report their quarterly results Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Macy's Chairman, President and CEO Terry Lundgren called the holiday season "terrific." The company's success over the holidays was crucial because the season can account for as much as 40 percent of a retailer's annual revenue. The company also is reaping the benefit of tailoring its merchandise to local markets and locking up more exclusive brands.

Macy's shares rose 44 cents, or 1.21 percent, to close at $36.69 Tuesday. They earlier touched a fresh 52-week high of $38.22.

Macy's said it earned $745 million, or $1.74 per share, for the period that ended Jan 28. A year earlier, it earned $667 million, or $1.55 per share.

Excluding gains from the sale of store leases related to the 2006 sale of Lord & Taylor and expenses tied to some store closings, Macy's reported adjusted earnings of $1.70 per share.

Revenue rose 5.5 percent to $8.72 billion from $8.27 billion, with sales climbing across all regions.

Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet said during a conference call that overall sales were strongest in shoes, handbags, watches, cosmetics and fragrances, and men's wear. The unseasonably warm weather dampened sales of cold-weather merchandise. Juniors and casual women's clothing sales also were weak.

For the year, Macy's earned $1.26 billion, or $2.92 per share, up from $847 million, or $1.98 per share, the previous year. Adjusted earnings were $2.88 per share.