A New Urban High

In an otherwise lackluster day, Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN  ) is quietly hitting new highs. For the parent company of the popular Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie chains, this caps an incredible 190% run off of the March lows below $17.

Likewise, 52-week highs are the order of the day for other retailers, including Chico's FAS (NYSE: CHS  ) , Target (NYSE: TGT  ) , and Gap (NYSE: GPS  ) . No earth-shattering news, no record volume, no fireworks of any kind -- just follow-through on a strong past few quarters for the retail sector.

For Urban Outfitters, the latest move follows a recent glowing earnings report. In the two weeks since, analysts have lifted their earnings estimates for 2003 and 2004 to $1.86 and $2.23, respectively. Analysts, who have a habit of being off the mark, have consistently underestimated Urban Outfitters' ability to expand profit margins.

At around $49, Urban Outfitters trades for 26 times this year's estimate and 22 times next year's guestimate. For a company with earnings growth typically in excess of 30%, those prices aren't unreasonable.

At the same time, the more prudent approach to investing in retailers is to buy when the market hates 'em and sell when the market loves 'em. Right now, there's a whole lot of love in the air.

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