Gymboree's Sales Stampede Rolls On

If you had decided to forgo new clothes for the kids last Christmas, and purchased Gymboree (Nasdaq: GYMB  ) stock instead, you'd be up nearly 50% since New Year's (although your kids may have been stuck wearing shirts and pants they’d outgrown).

Considering Gymboree’s first-quarter results, however, it doesn’t look like many parents followed this strategy. Moms hit the stores en masse, boosting revenue 15.7% for the quarter, triggered by a 4% increase in same-store sales and a 12.6% increase in new stores compared to last year. Even with the ongoing potential inflation risk, Gymboree projects “low-single-digit” same-store sales for the second quarter.

Gymboree has certainly been outpacing the competition lately. On the surface, it doesn’t make sense for a retailer touting a “Palm Springs” line of girls’ clothes -- with outfits going for $60 and up -- to do better than midrange competitors such as The Children’s Place (Nasdaq: PLCE  ) when the economy is so unstable.

Interestingly, though, we’ve seen a similar phenomenon in teen retail lately. High-end retailers such as Buckle (NYSE: BKE  ) have trumped rivals like American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO  ) and other middle-income-focused stores. For the time being, higher-income consumers don’t need to cut back on expensive clothes to afford $4 gallons of gas and $6 gallons of orange juice.

Gymboree says it plans to continue its store expansion and cost-control efforts. It has managed to keep cost of goods sold in line with sales gains (cost of goods sold trailed the top-line growth a bit, increasing 12.5%), which is impressive, given how rapidly commodity prices are growing. The SG&A cost increase of 16.5% slightly outpaced sales, but it isn’t horrible, especially considering the number of new stores opening, and how expensive everything is these days.

Inventory is the only black mark for Gymboree at this point, with a 12.4% year-over-year jump (although the company has reduced its inventory by 20% in the last three months). Gymboree has increased its cash by more than 75% since February, signaling that it’s not blowing through money to open new stores (another good thing).

With a P/E of 14.6, a solid financial base, and strong sales projected to continue, the Gymboree stampede looks pretty strong at this point. With that said, though, if you want to stay on your kids' good side, I still don’t recommend giving them Gymboree stock shares instead of holiday gifts .

For related Foolishness:

The Motley Fool owns shares of American Eagle, which is a Stock Advisor pick. For more investing insight, you can always give the Fool’s newsletters a try free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Colleen Paulson does not hold positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. The Fool’s disclosure policy goes to the gym three times a week.

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