Williams-Sonoma Inc., which sells gourmet cookware and home furnishings in stores and catalogs, on Tuesday reported a 70 percent jump in fiscal third-quarter earnings on lower costs and higher sales. 

The San Francisco company also presented a fourth-quarter earnings outlook above some analysts' estimates. 

Williams-Sonoma, which operates stores under its own name as well as Pottery Barn, Hold Everything and Chambers, said net income for the third quarter ended Oct. 28 rose to $3.9 million, or 7 cents a diluted share, from $2.3 million, or 4 cents a share, a year earlier. 

Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call had on average expected a profit of 5 cents a share. Estimates ranged from 4 cents to 7 cents. 

In early October, Williams-Sonoma reiterated its third-quarter earnings forecast of 5 cents to 7 cents a share, but lowered its revenue outlook to $460 million to $470 million from a previous range of $478 million to $492 million. 

The company reported sales of $462.1 million, up 8.8 percent from $424.6 million a year ago, boosted by new stores. It had 412 stores at the end of the quarter, up from 370 a year earlier. 

Sales at stores open at least a year -- a key measure of retail performance -- fell 1.1 percent in the quarter. 

``Retail sales for the third quarter were volatile due to the economic aftermath of September 11th,'' Chief Executive Dale Hilpert said in a statement. 

Same-store sales rose 2.7 percent in August, fell 6.1 percent in September and dipped 0.2 percent in October, Hilpert said. Pottery Barn retail had the strongest rebound, he said, with October same-store sales up 2.6 percent. 

Reduced transportation costs and lower catalog production costs helped offset disruptions in sales resulting from the September attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. 

Williams-Sonoma said it remains cautious in its outlook for the fourth quarter, but affirmed its full-year earnings forecast of $1.17 to $1.24 per share on revenues of $2.065 billion to $2.08 billion. 

For the fourth quarter, the company expects earnings per share of $1.07 to $1.14. The First Call range of estimates is 98 cents to $1.12, for an average of $1.06. 

The company said it sees fourth-quarter revenues of $756 million to $771 million, with same-store sales rising at a low-single digit percentage rate. 

In Monday New York Stock Exchange trading, Williams-Sonoma shares closed at $31.89, above their Sept. 10 closing price of $28.30. In the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, the stock had fallen below $22.