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Last week's biggest winner on the New York Stock Exchange is also one of its biggest victors over the past two months. Shares ofPier 1 Imports(NYSE: PIR)soared 27.46% last week after the company posted blowout financial results.
We can't really call this performance a surprise. The stock had popped 17% higher a week earlier in anticipation of Wednesday afternoon's quarterly report. The stock has now more than doubled since the end of October, skyrocketing 101% in that brief time.
It was a great quarter if you knew where Pier 1 was coming from. Net sales of $475.9 million for its fiscal third quarter were nearly flat with the $478 million it posted a year earlier. The results were the handiwork of having 33 fewer stores this time around, largely offset by a 1.8% uptick in comps.
Posting positive comps could be a game changer. Pier 1's same-store sales had clocked in with a decline of 4.2% a during the second quarter, and all indications were that the new fiscal period kicked off in September with another down month. However, by mid-November, Pier 1 was announcing positive store-level trends through October, and that has carried through into November. Pier 1's profit of $0.22 a share for the quarter blew past the $0.13 analysts were expecting.
Shares of Pier 1 hit a new 52-week high on Thursday. The stock is trading at its highest levels since the summer of last year. Pier 1 stock has been a wild one, trading as low as $0.10 in 2009, when the company seemed on the brink of declaring bankruptcy -- only to bounce back when it peaked in the low $20s in 2013.
The positive comps may not last. Pier 1's guidance for the holiday quarter calls for same-store sales to fall in a range between a dip of 1% and a gain of 1%. The retailer could be taking a conservative tack. It was initially eyeing negative comps for the third quarter, with earnings coming in no higher than $0.15 a share. However, the trend turned positive after Pier 1's initial remarks. The cautious guidance here could be based on how early December trends are playing out.
Pier 1 continues to make headway in cyberspace. Online sales have risen 28% over the past year and now account for a fifth of its net sales.
It's not all necessarily calm on the Pier 1 waterfront. CEO Alex Smith is stepping down next month, and last week Pier 1 announced that board chairman Terry London will step in as interim president and CEO. Some activists are concerned with the leadership transition, but with the stock rolling -- more than doubling now since the start of last month -- it's hard to question Pier 1's moves these days.
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