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What: Shares of Christopher & Banks (NYSE: CBK ) were climbing higher today, up as much as 10% after a better-than-expected earnings report.
So what: The clothing retailer said its net loss per share improved from $0.06 to $0.01, a penny better than estimates at $0.02, while revenue edged up 0.8% to $104.2 million. That was short of estimates at $106.5 million, but same-store sales increased by an impressive 7.7%, lapping an uptick of 8.9% the year before as the company has restructured in its attempt to emerge from the recession. Overall revenue growth was slower, as Christopher & Banks has closed down a number of underperforming stores over the past year, dropping its total count by 8.8%. Management also announced a three-year growth plan starting in fiscal 2014 with expectations of mid-single-digit comparable sales growth, 20 new store openings a year, a gross margin increase of 300 to 400 basis points, and a 2016 operating margin in the high single digits.
Now what: Of the goals outlined above, the new store openings seem to be the key. That's a sign that the company is reaching the end of its "store rationalization plan" and is ready to grow again, adding to its current total of 597 stores, which should help it deliver on its other financial goals. The direction of the company has improved since CEO LuAnn Via took over last fall, and if the company can hit all the targets in its growth plan, it should see earnings per share of about $1 by 2016. With shares priced under $7 today, they're sure to go up if Christopher & Banks can deliver.
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