What happened?

Excluding the recent optimism in retail stocks following a strong Black Friday, it's been a rough couple of years for most apparel retailers. Don't tell that to J.Jill, Inc. (JILL -3.79%), which just released third-quarter results and fourth-quarter guidance that sent its stock up over 7% as of 10:55 a.m. EST.

So what

Total net sales climbed a modest 1.6% higher, to $162 million, during the third quarter with comparable sales checking in with a 0.6% decline. On the bottom line, J.Jill's adjusted earnings per share checked in at $0.13, which was down from the prior year's result of $0.18 per share. The company's revenue and earnings were a mixed bag depending on which analysts were surveyed; both results surpassed Zacks average estimates, but both fell short of FactSet consensus estimates.

Rack of women's clothing

Image source: Getty Images.

Paula Bennett, President and CEO of J.Jill, Inc. stated, in a press release:

While we are disappointed with our overall performance for the third quarter, we are pleased to have ended the period with positive trends in October driven largely by our retail store performance. Thus far in the fourth quarter, we have returned to total comparable sales growth, with our current product offering better aligned to what our customer expects from J.Jill. With our return to positive trends, and as we continue to analyze our performance, we believe we are well-positioned to deliver against our goals for the remainder of the year.

Now what

Investors looking for the driving force behind J.Jill's 7% gain today will find it with fourth-quarter guidance. For the fourth quarter, management expects comparable sales to rebound and climb 2% to 4%. This would help push the full-year comparable sales gain to a range of 4% to 5%.