The major benchmarks added to their gains for the week on a positive but quiet day on Wall Street. Jobs growth slowed during August, with employers adding 156,000 jobs for the month, lower than the 180,000-190,000 predicted by economists, but investors seemed to shrug it off. Company-specific news sent some stocks higher, and L Brands, Inc. (NYSE: LB), Conn's, Inc. (NASDAQ: CONN), and lululemon athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.
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L Brands shows signs of improvement
Shares of L Brands gained 3.4% after the company released better-than-expected sales numbers for the month of August. The company behind Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works reported net sales of $842.1 million for the four-week period that ended Aug. 26, a decrease of 1% from the year-ago period. Comparable store sales fell by 4%, though they would have been down just 2% adjusting for the company's exit from the swim and apparel business at Victoria's Secret.
While this would seem like nothing to celebrate, the falling comps were less severe than L Brands has experienced in recent history. Net sales have fallen 5% year to date, while comparable sales have declined 8%, so this is actually an improvement. The company reported disappointing earnings in August, so investors seem to be breathing a sigh of relief that things weren't worse.
Conn's weathers the storm
Conn's stock surged 12.1% after the company provided a business update in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Texas-based consumer electronics and furniture retailer released a statement saying that 21 of the 23 stores that were closed as a result of the storm were now open, as well as its corporate office and distribution and services centers in Beaumont. The company said it lost 100 store-days due to the "unprecedented levels of rain and flooding," but noted that this compared favorably to previous storms, with 134 lost store-days resulting from Hurricane Rita, and 144 from Hurricane Ike.
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Chairman and CEO Norm Miller commented, "Our advanced planning, resilient infrastructure and the determination of our staff has enabled the business to minimize the impact of this terrible event." The company said it will provide more detailed information about the storm's impact when it reports fiscal second-quarter results on Sept. 7.
Lululemon Athletica reaches for the sky
Finally, shares of Lululemon jumped 7.2% in the wake of the release of fiscal second-quarter financial results. The yoga-apparel retailer reported net revenue of $581.1 million, up 13% compared to the prior-year quarter, as the result of comparable sales that climbed 7% and a 2% same-store sales increase. Adjusted earnings per share of $0.39 came in just above the year-ago quarter, led by a 29% increase in direct-to-consumer sales. Lululemon topped consensus estimates for both sales and profits, and also raised its forecast for revenue and earnings for the full year.
CEO Laurent Potdevin pointed to the company's strengths:
Our performance reflects the growing global consumer response to lululemon's unique position as the leading brand that defines an active, mindful lifestyle. Through continuing to deliver category-defining product innovation, we are creating experiences that our guests, both existing and new, desire. This strong brand momentum reinforces my confidence in our long-term strategy.
In a retail environment that has been brutal for other athletic-wear retailers, Lululemon bucked the trend, and investors applauded the results.
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