Image source: Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

What happened

Shares of Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE:WSM) rose 18.5% in November, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, both as the broader market climbed and as the home-furnishings retailer's third-quarter results showed resilience in the face of a tough retail environment.

So what

Williams-Sonoma shares began to climb last month along with the broader market following last month's election, which has surged to fresh highs even after some post-election jitters indicated nervousness for what's to come with the new U.S. presidential administration.

Coincidentally, shares then pulled back a modest 4% the day after Williams-Sonoma revealed third-quarter results that were mixed relative to expectations.

On one hand, quarterly revenue climbed just 1.1% year over year, to $1.245 billion -- near the low end of guidance for $1.235 billion to $1.285 billion -- as a 3.3% increase in e-commerce sales was offset by a 1.2% decline in retail revenue. The latter, in particular, included a comparable-brand revenue decline of 0.4%, which was also below guidance for growth of 0% to 4%.

On the other hand, Williams-Sonoma's earnings declined 1.6%, to $69.4 million, and also rose 1.3% on a per-share basis, to $0.78 -- near the high end of guidance for $0.75 to $0.80.

CEO Laura Alber partly credited its bottom-line outperformance to the strength of the company's differentiated portfolio of brands, notably including 12% comparable-brand sales at West Elm, as well as similar double-digit growth from its newer Rejuvenation and Mark and Graham businesses, and strength in international sales. What's more, Williams-Sonoma continued to optimize its supply chain and reduce inventory, improving gross margin and leaving it well positioned to take advantage of the crucial holiday season.

Now what

As it stands, it's hard to ask for much more as an investor from Williams-Sonoma as it continues to weather today's increasingly difficult retail environment. As long as the company remains focused on delivering against its strategic initiatives and optimizing the business to maximize profits, Williams-Sonoma stock should remain poised to keep delivering market-beating returns going forward.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.