For Nordstrom, fashion not only sells, it pays. The upscale retailer yesterday said its first-quarter profit rose 52. 1 percent to $104...

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For Nordstrom, fashion not only sells, it pays.

The upscale retailer yesterday said its first-quarter profit rose 52.1 percent to $104.5 million, or 75 cents per share — beating Wall Street forecasts by a nickel.

Sales rose 7.7 percent to $1.65 billion, as customers bought more cosmetics and accessories, plus women’s designer and men’s apparel.

The company raised its quarterly dividend and profit guidance for the year.

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“Sales were stronger than expected,” said Patty Edwards, a retail analyst with Wentworth Hauser and Violich. “That all came down to their buying.”

Nordstrom’s investment in a computerized inventory system has given its buyers and salespeople the data to make smarter decisions about what sells.

Nordstrom also recently installed software that helps it analyze the rate at which a particular item sells by location, helping it manage the way it replenishes inventory.

High-end retail continues to soar, despite higher gasoline prices and an uncertain economy.

Luxury-store sales rose 8.9 percent in April versus the year before, whereas overall retail sales rose just 2.2 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Nordstrom’s same-store sales — a key retail gauge for stores open at least a year — rose 6.2 percent for the quarter, despite a tough year-ago comparison of 14 percent.

Nordstrom raised its fiscal-year profit guidance to $3.40 to $3.50 per share, up 15 cents.

The company’s board also increased its quarterly dividend by 31 percent to 17 cents for the quarter, payable on June 15 to shareholders of record on May 31.

President Blake Nordstrom said the company for the first time would mail one consolidated catalog for its anniversary sale, which begins in July.

The featured merchandise will be available in its stores and on to align its online and brick-and-mortar businesses.”We expect our catalogs and Web site to begin to have a look and feel that is much more consistent with our full-line stores,” he said.The company’s shares rose $1.69, or 3.04 percent, to close at $57.32, but added another $1.56 in after-hours trading.Nordstrom announced its financial results after the markets closed.

Monica Soto Ouchi: 206-515-5632 or