Shares of J.Jill, Inc. (JILL 2.27%), an omnichannel premier retailer of women's apparel, are popping 20% higher as of 10:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, after the company announced a strong first quarter.
Total net sales during the first quarter increased 9.3% to $181.5 million, partially driven by a 2.3% increase in comparable sales. Adjusted earnings per share checked in at $0.29, above the prior year's $0.24 per share. Both results topped analysts' estimates calling for $0.19 adjusted earnings per share on revenue of $159.7 million. J.Jill still has a strong e-commerce story with its direct to consumer net sales generating 40.5% of total net sales during the first quarter.
"I am excited to have joined J.Jill at an important time in our company's history as we plan our next phase of growth. The first quarter underscores we have work to do and we have indicators of improvement. We experienced positive comps in our retail stores. We also saw improved results from our e-commerce channel. We remain focused on initiatives to improve our overall performance and get us on track to deliver at a consistent level that is expected," said J.Jill CEO Linda Heasley, in a press release.
While the stock popping 20% Thursday morning is welcomed by investors -- J.Jill's stock has a history of popping and dropping after quarterly results -- there's still work to be done at J.Jill considering the stock is still down 34% over the past 12 months. Further, management expects a slightly slower second quarter due to calendar shifts that pulled some sales from the second quarter into the first quarter. Investors would be wise to keep an eye on comparable store sales; management expects comparable sales to check in flat to a positive low single digit gain.