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Abercrombie & Fitch Brings Back Racy Catalog

Preppy teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is reinstating its racy A&F Quarterly catalog after a seven-year hiatus.

The catalog, shot by fashion photographer Bruce Weber, is available for pre-order on Abercrombie's website for $10 and will be released July 17.

Abercrombie was among the teen retailers hit hardest when consumers cut spending in the recession and abandoned its relatively high-priced flannel shirts and jeans for products from lower-priced competitors such as Aeropostale Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc.

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The company updated its assortment, lowered prices and cut costs, and by the first half of this year customers were returning. For the five months through the end of May, its revenue in stores open at least one year - a key measure of a retailer's fiscal health - rose 1 percent, while total revenue rose 13 percent to $885.4 million.

Abercrombie stopped publishing the quarterly in 2003 following complaints about its sexually suggestive photographs. But the company never gave a reason.

The catalog is part of a larger back-to-school campaign that mainly includes in-store displays. An Abercrombie spokeswoman said the theme for the catalog is a "VIP Backstage pass" to an Abercrombie & Fitch screen test.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin, who says Abercrombie's shares will perform on par with its sector, said the catalog probably won't materially affect its earnings. But he said media exposure related to the catalog will be a positive for the New Albany, Ohio-based company.

"They are starting to reconnect with some of their customers and want to drive more traffic into their stores and e-commerce site," he said. "A catalog is one way for them to do that."

Shares rose 28 cents to $32.32 during midday trading.