What happened

Shares of J. Jill, Inc. (NYSE:JILL) were surging today after the women's clothing retailer posted better-than-expected first-quarter results.

As of 12:20 p.m. EDT, the stock was up 12.6%.

A J. Jill Model wearing white pants and a blue top while holding a straw hat.

Image source: J. Jill.

So what

At a time when much of the apparel retail sector is struggling, J. Jill is standout performer, with comparable sales growth of 9.9% in the quarter, which includes e-commerce.

Overall revenue increased 12.5% to $166.1 million, beating estimates at $162 million. On the bottom line, adjusted earnings per share increased from $0.16 a year ago to $0.24, which easily topped expectations at $0.19 a share.

CEO Paula Bennett said, "We are pleased with our start to the year and our ability to consistently capitalize on the strengths of our omni-channel data-driven business model. We are confident we have the right formula and approach in place to continue to drive these consistent positive results and to deliver against our goals for 2017 and beyond."

Now what

For the current quarter, management is calling for adjusted earnings per share of $0.27-$0.29 with comparable sales in the high single digits. For the full year, management also sees comparable sales growth in the high single digits and adjusted EPS of $0.80-$0.84. That compares to the analyst consensus at $0.27 for the current quarter and $0.79 for the full year. 

J. Jill still trades below its $13 IPO price, but the strong comparable sales and earnings growth are promising. If management can execute on that guidance, the stock should continue to move higher.

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.