Shares of Victoria's Secrets parent L Brands Inc. were trading up 10% to lead S&P 500 gainers on Thursday, a surprising move coming after the company reported a 10% decline in March same-store sales. L Brands, which also owns Bath and Body Works, said net sales fell 7% to $951.4 million, hurt by a timing shift for Easter this year. Sales for the nine-week period to April 1 fell 8%, while same-store sales were down 11%. "For the nine week period, the exit of the swim and apparel categories had a negative impact of 6 percentage points and 9 percentage points to total company and Victoria's Secret comparable sales, respectively," the company said. Cowen & Co. analyst Oliver Chen said the numbers were "likely better than feared", but that the stock was probably also the subject of short covering. Short interest in the stock has climbed to 9.2 million shares, according to FactSet data. "Cowen remains very cautious on Victoria's Secrets sports transition, bralette risk factors, and beauty turnaround - also, store footprint could become an issue if mall traffic weakness accelerates and digital importance increases," Chen wrote in a note. Shares have fallen 28% in 2017, while the S&P 500 has gained 5%.
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