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Wet Seal Earnings

From: ASAP
Remote Name: 216.57.26.250

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Specialty retailer The Wet Seal, Inc. announced earnings of $3,573,000, or $0.18 per diluted share for the second quarter of fiscal 2001, the 13-week period ended August 4, 2001, compared to $461,000, or $0.02 per diluted share for the 13-week period ended July 29, 2000, an increase of $3,112,000 or 675.1 percent. For the 26-week period ended August 4, 2001, the Company posted earnings of $8,933,000, or $0.44 per diluted share, as compared to $2,678,000, or $0.14 per diluted share for the 26-week period ended July 29, 2000. Note that all earnings per share amounts have been adjusted for the 3-for-2 stock split effected as of July 24, 2001. As previously announced, net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2001 were $135,580,000 compared to net sales of $128,194,000 for the second quarter of fiscal 2000, an increase of $7,386,000 or 5.8 percent. Comparable store sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2001 increased 3.4 percent. For the 26-week period ended August 4, 2001, net sales were $273,493,000 compared to net sales of $258,794,000 for the 26-week period ended July 29, 2000, an increase of $14,699,000 or 5.7 percent. For the 26-week period ended August 4, 2001, comparable store sales increased 3.5 percent. "We are pleased with the second quarter earnings growth which reflects the merchandising and operational improvements made during the prior 12 months. As a result of the improvements, this is our fourth consecutive quarter of earnings growth in a difficult retail environment," said Kathy Bronstein, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Comparable store sales month-to-date in August are better than anticipated, showing continued strength in both tops and bottoms, particularly fashion denim, offset by some weakness in accessories," continued Ms. Bronstein. "Given our current business trend and the increasingly difficult comparisons to last year, we believe that we can achieve low single-digit comparable store sales throughout the third and fourth quarters. With that comparable store sales assumption, the plan to open approximately 49 new stores before the Holiday season, continued gross margin expansion and flat selling, general and administrative expense rates to last year, we are comfortable with the current First Call consensus earnings estimates for both the third and fourth quarters," concluded Ms. Bronstein. As of the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2001, the Company operated 558 stores, compared to 552 stores as of the end of fiscal 2000 and 561 stores as of the end of the prior year second quarter. The Company opened 6 stores in the first half of fiscal 2001, acquired 18 stores (Zutopia) and closed 18 stores. The Company plans to open approximately 55 new stores in fiscal 2001 and will close up to 40 stores. The Company's cash position remains strong as of the end of the second quarter with over $113 million in cash and investments, and no long-term debt. The Wet Seal, Inc. invites you to listen to the second quarter conference call with Kathy Bronstein, Vice Chairman and CEO, Walter Parks, Executive Vice President and CFO, and Steve Strickland, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Creative Services today at 9:00 AM PST. An encore will be available through September 6, 2001. Please call 800-374-1738 and provide ID#1570651 to listen to the call. For the replay, please call 800-642-1687 and provide ID#1570651. Should you have any questions regarding the conference call, please contact IR at 949-699-4007.

The Wet Seal, Inc., a specialty retailer of fashionable and contemporary apparel and accessory items is headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California. The Company currently operates a total of 561 stores in 44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, of which 373 are Wet Seal stores and 86 are Contempo Casuals stores which cater to the junior customer, 83 are Arden B. stores which focus on a fashionable, sophisticated, contemporary customer and 19 are Zutopia stores for the 'tween' customer.

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