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 investing thesis.
What: Shares of Haverty Furniture (NYSE:HVT) were looking sturdy today, climbing as much as 15% after a strong fourth-quarter earnings report.
So what: The specialty furniture retailer said earnings per share improved from $0.30 a year ago to $0.42, beating the $0.39 estimate. Sales increased 7.6% to $195.2 million on a 9.5% jump in comparable-store sales, both better than expectations. Management said the same-store sales increase was led by a 7.8% increase in average ticket as it focused on higher-price-point products, allowing the company to expand gross margin by 120 basis points to 54%.
Now what: While a comparable-store sales increase of 9.5% is certainly impressive, I'd prefer to see the improvement coming from increased traffic rather than a higher average transaction. Management can only boost the price tag of its products so often, but customer count can always grow. The company said same-store sales are up 3.6% in the current quarter, meaning we're unlikely to see a repeat performance of 2013, when comps jumped 11%. Gross margin and new store additions are also expected to be essentially flat this year, meaning Haverty seems like just an average stock at this point.
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Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.