Investors Go Crazy for Coldwater

You've got to love it when a company reports news that's not as bad as previously expected, and investors go wild in response. That appears to be happening today with Coldwater Creek (Nasdaq: CWTR  ) , whose supporters spiked shares by as much as 16% at one point.

The hot news was that Coldwater Creek's second-quarter results will either break even or come in at a profit of $0.02 per share. The company had previously expected a net loss between $0.03 per share and $0.09 per share.

For the entire year, Coldwater Creek now forecasts a range from a net loss of $0.04 per share to a profit of $0.09 per share. It had previously guided for a net loss of $0.13 per share to a profit of $0.04 per share.

Granted, this is better news than before. And I can see how some investors would grab on to any shred of good news from the retail niche targeting older female customers -- similar stocks that have been struggling to turn around, include Chico's (NYSE: CHS  ) and Talbots (NYSE: TLB  )

Still, Coldwater Creek strikes me as a company paddling through some dangerous waters. The current economic difficulties are likely making mature female shoppers very value-oriented and discerning. Even before the economy worsened, these retailers were already struggling with offering the right merchandise mix at the right price.

Meanwhile, there are lots of retail bargain stocks these days. American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO  ) may be getting ridiculously cheap, trading at eight times earnings, yet sporting a balance sheet that's flush with $369 million in cash. Or what about Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO  ) , which, speaking of merchandise and price, has been one of the few retailers able to buck recent sales trends? Even though there's some reason to be a little troubled over teens, I consider both of these companies less risky than the aforementioned women's retailers, which seem to have been missing their fashion sense for quite some time.

Coldwater Creek and its peers still strike me as a bit risky, and "better than previously expected" isn't really enough to compel me at the moment, especially given the possibility that the retailer still won't be profitable this year. I'll keep my eye on these retailers with great curiosity as they try to turn around their businesses, but I think investors ought to choose their retail bargain stocks very carefully.

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American Eagle has been recommended by Stock Advisor, and the Fool owns shares of it. Check out the service for more retail stock ideas, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy..

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