updated 8/16/2007 12:47:17 PM ET 2007-08-16T16:47:17

Department store retailer J.C. Penney Co. said Thursday its second-quarter profit edged up nearly 2 percent year-over-year to top Wall Street expectations, and the company raised its outlook for the full year.

Net income rose to $182 million, or 81 cents per share, from $179 million, or 76 cents per share, a year ago. Earnings from continuing operations for the quarter ended Aug. 4 grew to 78 cents per share from 75 cents last year, which included 11 cents of federal and state income tax credits.

Total sales increased nearly 4 percent to $4.39 billion from $4.24 billion a year ago, driven by sales of children's and women's apparel, particularly in the northwestern and southwestern regions of the country.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected operating profit of 77 cents per share but higher sales of $4.42 billion.

The company said its back-to-school selling season is off to a good start, and it is pleased by the response to its new private lingerie brand Ambrielle and exclusive Liz & Co. and Concepts by Claiborne.

J.C. Penney raised its outlook for full-year profit forecast to $5.50 per share from a prior estimate of $5.49 per share. Analysts are seeking profit of $5.48 per share, on average.

J.C. Penney operates 1,048 department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

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