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Pier 1 reports strong 1Q comps

Fort Worth, Texas - Same-store sales for Pier 1 Imports jumped 8.9% in its fiscal fourth quarter thanks to higher tickets and better traffic and closing rates.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based home furnishings specialty chain said the same-store sales increase for the period ended Feb. 26 was on top of a 6.5% gain in the previous year's fourth quarter.
Total sales in the latest quarter were $427 million, up 7.8% from $396 million a year ago. For the full year, sales increased 8.1% to about $1.4 billion and same-store sales rose 10.9%.
Pier 1 president and ceo Alex Smith called the fiscal year "outstanding" and said the fourth quarter was its most successful period in seven years.
"The sell through on holiday merchandise was ahead of last year, resulting in lower post-Christmas sales and higher merchandise margins," he said. "Our Valentine's Day merchandise had an extremely high sell through and Easter is tracking above last year."
Smith added that the early read on Pier 1's outdoor and spring assortments is "encouraging" and said the retailer's core lineup continues to strengthen, too.
The retailer said the same-store gains in the fourth quarter and fiscal year were driven by increases in average ticket, conversion rate and traffic. Merchandise margins are expected to be at least 58% in the fourth quarter, up from earlier expectations of $57.5% and up from 55.8% in the comparable quarter a year ago.

Fourth quarter earnings, to be released April 7, are expected to be in the range of 47 cents to 48 cents per share, up from 30 cents per share in the fourth quarter a year ago, the company said.

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