What happened

Shares of apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) soared on Thursday, rising as much as 29.5%. As of 12:04 p.m. EDT, the stock was up 20.3%.

The stock's rise follows the company's third-quarter financial results, which featured stronger-than-expected sales and adjusted earnings per share, as well as news that the company now expects to close 20 fewer stores this year than previously planned.

A group of young people smiling.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

For its third quarter, Abercrombie reported net sales of $861 million, beating a consensus analyst forecast for $853 million. These sales were up from $859.1 million in the year-ago quarter and were helped by a 3% rise in same-store sales.

The company's non-GAAP earnings per share was $0.33, up from $0.30 in the year-ago quarter and handily beating analysts' average estimate for $0.20.

"We are pleased with our third quarter performance, our fifth consecutive quarter of positive comparable sales," said Abercrombie CEO Fran Horowitz in the company's third-quarter earnings release, "with growth across both of our brands."

Now what

For the company's fourth quarter, management expects net sales to be down by a mid-single-digit percentage point compared to the year-ago quarter. But management expects same-store sales for the period to be up by a low-single-digit percentage point.

On the heels of the company's solid performance, management is now planning to close 40 stores this year instead of its previous expectation to close 60.

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.