Why Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. Shares Jumped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our thesis.

What: Shares of Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage  (NYSE: NGVC  ) were looking healthier today, climbing as much as 14% on a strong first-quarter earnings report.

So what: The natural grocery store chain said sales jumped 25.8% to $120.6 million, cruising past analyst estimates of $120.6 million on a 10.8% improvement in same-store sales. The bottom line grew at a similarly brisk pace, increasing 31.6% to $2.9 million or $0.13 per share, topping estimates by a penny. Co-President Kemper Isely called the results "solid," and said the company had "positive momentum" going into 2014.

Now what: With comparable sales growing at a strong pace and an aggressive store expansion plan in place, Natural Grocers appears to be poised for further growth. The company plans to open 15 locations during 2014, growing its store count by more than 20%, and it kept its outlook for the year, saying it expects same-store sales to grow 8.5% to 9.5% and for EPS to come in at $0.58 to $0.63. Analysts had just been expecting a per-share profit of $0.49. Factor in the broader growth in the organic foods industry, and Natural Grocers seems like it should have a bright future ahead of itself.

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