Women's clothing retailer AnnTaylor Stores Corp reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday, helped by improved merchandise at its LOFT stores and cost cuts.

On a net basis, the company posted a loss of $18.0 million, or 32 cents per share, for the second quarter ended on August 1, compared with a year-earlier profit of $29.3 million, or 50 cents per share.

Excluding restructuring charges, AnnTaylor had a profit of 6 cents per share, topping the analysts' average forecast of 2 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said in July that, excluding restructuring and impairment costs, it expected second-quarter earnings to be slightly above break-even on revenue of $470 million.

Sales came in at $470.2 million, down from $592.3 million a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, fell 22.5 percent, with a 38 percent drop at the Ann Taylor chain and a 15.4 percent drop at LOFT.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)