American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEOS) said Wednesday its profit nearly tripled in the latest quarter as sales soared, and the clothing retailer raised its first-quarter outlook above Wall Street's expectations.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, the Warrendale-based company reported net income of $101.2 million, or $1.32 a share, compared with $35.4 million, or 49 cents a share, a year ago.

Income from continuing operations rose to $107.2 million, or $1.40 a share, from $43.2 million, or 60 cents a share, last year.

The results topped Wall Street's expectations. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson First Call was for earnings, excluding items, of $1.39 a share.

Shares of American Eagle climbed $1.79, or 3.2 percent, to $57.09 on the Nasdaq Stock Market (search).

American Eagle said its per-share results don't reflect a 2-for-1 stock split planned for March 7.

Sales in the latest quarter surged 37 percent to $674 million from $490.6 million last year. Sales at stores open at least a year, also known as same-store sales, jumped 29 percent.

Separately, the company posted a 42 percent jump in sales for the month ended Feb. 26, to $127 million from $89.5 million a year ago. Same-store sales rose 32 percent for the month.

Based on the February results, American Eagle said it now expects first-quarter earnings of 52 to 54 cents a share, up from the 43 to 45 cents a share it predicted earlier. Wall Street expects the company to earn 47 cents a share.

A year ago, the company reported first-quarter earnings from continuing operations of 36 cents a share.

For all of 2004, the company reported net income of $214 million, or $2.85 a share, compared with $60 million, or 83 cents a share, for 2003.

Full-year sales jumped to $1.88 billion from $1.43 billion.

American Eagle Outfitters, joining many other retailers and restaurants, also said it is reviewing the way it accounts for leases. However, any restatement resulting from the inquiry is unlikely to materially affect finances, the company said.

The company, which sells casual clothing targeted at people aged 15 to 25, operates 777 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, and 69 stores in Canada.