Why Pier 1 Imports Inc Stock Popped Today

By Markets Fool.com

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

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What:Shares of Pier 1 Imports Inc (NYSE: PIR) were up over 12% Thursday after the home furnishings retailer announced better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and details for a "real estate optimization initiative."

So what:Quarterly sales rose 5.3% year over year to $543.6 million, helped by a 5.7% increase in comparable store sales. That translated to a 9.8% decrease in net income per share to $0.37. Analysts were modeling slightly higher sales of $548.7 million, but would have been happy with earnings of just $0.36 per share.

Now what:Going forward, however, Pier 1 also revealed a plan to optimize its real estate portfolio by reducing occupancy and payroll costs and improve efficiency. As part of that plan, Pier 1 will close roughly 100 stores over the next three years, mostly through natural lease expirations and relocations. According to Pier 1 Interim CFO Laura Coffey, while the stores they've identified for the initiative are "slightly profitable at the store level today," closing them through this natural cycle will be accretive to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Pier 1 also noted during fiscal 2015, it repurchased a total of 10.3 million shares of common stock for roughly $173.9 million, or a whopping 10.4% of its shares outstanding at the start of the year. Around $122.2 million remains available under its current repurchase authorization.

Finally, Pier 1 offered full-year fiscal 2016 guidance for comparable sales growth (including e-Commerce) in the mid-single digit percentage range, and earnings per share in the range of $0.83 to $0.87. That's well below analysts' expectations for fiscal 2016 earnings of $0.91 per share.

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Nonetheless, I can't blame the market for bidding up the stock given today's beat and Pier 1's ongoing focus on maximizing profitability over the long-term. In the end, however -- and even with shares trading at a seemingly reasonable 17 times next year's expected earnings -- I'm personally just not compelled enough by the stock given Pier 1's sluggish sales and expected falling store count. Until Pier 1 can show its business can eventually return to sustained, profitable growth, I'm perfectly content keeping it on my watch list.

The article Why Pier 1 Imports Inc Stock Popped Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.