Shares in Zalando rose today after Europe's biggest online-only fashion retailer said it expected to post an operating profit for the first quarter, confounding analyst forecasts for a loss. 

The retailer said last night that it expected adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in the single-digit millions, despite analysts predicting an operating loss.

Zalando also confirmed its full-year targets. 

"We are pleased with our performance in the first quarter, demonstrating that we are focused on strong execution," the company's chief financial officer David Schroeder said in a statement, without giving further details. 

Zalando is due to report full first-quarter results on May 2.

Zalando's profitability has been dented in the last couple of years by heavy investment in logistics costs as competition mounts from players such as Amazon.com. 

However, Zalando has predicted that its margins should be increasingly supported by a move to grow its partner programme – under which it charges fashion labels a commission to sell stock through its website rather than buying and selling them itself. 

Zalando shares plunged last year after the company cut its outlook twice, blaming slower sales growth on the unusually long, hot summer in Europe.

However, the stock jumped in February after Zalando said it expected solid growth this year after sales rebounded in the fourth quarter and it won 1.3 million new customers, the biggest quarterly increase in five years.

Last week, shares in UK rival ASOS jumped after it stuck to its full-year guidance even after it reported a drop in first-half pretax profit, hurt by poor Christmas trading and logistical hiccups as it entered the US market.