Yes, appliances are what's driving the sales at the store that your mom and newlywed couples can't get enough of, but Williams-Sonoma's other brands are enjoying plenty of love as well -- sales at Pottery Barn popped 9.7% over the period, while West Elm sales gained nearly 19%.
Keep in mind that this past winter was brutal for the major retail chains nationwide, from Staples to Wal-Mart, as storms and blizzards kept folks inside (aka "not shopping"). But it looks like this wasn't the case for more luxury-oriented shoppers -- and Wall Street rewarded Williams-Sonoma stock with a healthy 8.2% gain Thursday on the news.
2. ... And stock market losers
But on the not-so-bright side, that figure was below analysts' expectations. So what was the problem? It looks like the designers working for Urban's flagship brand (aka Urban Outfitters), just haven't hit the mark recently. During the earnings call, execs admitted that the company has "missed fashion calls," and as a result, sales at the stores fell 6% last quarter.
The key here is that Urban isn't just one brand -- it's got a few good-looking ones under its belt. Despite the poor performance of the Urban name, sales at its retail chain Live Free gained 8% over the quarter, while Anthropologie sales jumped 25%. It wasn't enough to encourage investors to jump on the stock, but it did help Urban save some face.
4. The Fed's minutes showed stimulus love
America's central bank opened itself up to the world, revealing the minutes from Federal Reserve policymakers' big meeting last month. It turns out that Fed officials think the economy is still "gradually improving" so they won't change interest rates right now. Over the past few months, as the economy has shown life, the Fed has scaled back its stimulus policies that keep interest rates low to encourage borrowing -- and since Wall Street loves the stimulus juice, investors rejoiced that stimulus will stay a bit longer.
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