Brookstone (NASDAQ:BKST) is a three-time loser, but it's getting better. Before you gadget and garden-tool fans make with the angry email, remember, I'm just stating the facts. The firm, like competitor Sharper Image (NASDAQ:SHRP), has a habit of plugging along in the red for three quarters per year before making up for everything with a whirlwind holiday season.

But this year, Brookstone's first-quarter deficit is 28% slimmer than last year's. The negative $0.23 per share was achieved through some pretty hefty sales gains, including an incredible 20% surge in same-store sales. The comps blowout led to a 27% increase in total revenues.

I don't want to sound like I'm encouraging bragging in corporate communications, but despite its giddy headline, today's release understates the success. There's no harm in pointing out, for instance, that, as a percentage of sales, gross profits increased 5.6% and selling, general, and administrative expenses dropped 2%. I know CEOs who would forgo a year of business lunches for improvements like that.

With that kind of slimming and trimming, maybe the company could actually turn a profit outside of the fourth quarter. OK, maybe not. But management is pretty confident that next quarter's loss will be only half as red as last year's, and the Brookstone brass predicts full-year earnings around $1.09 per stub, about 25% better than last year.

With shares trading around $18 each, that puts the forward P/E near 17. Maybe it's no screaming bargain in an uncertain consumer climate, but with the firm putting in the kind of improvements evidenced today, it looks like one of the better sleepers in retail stock.

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Fool contributor Seth Jayson owns no company mentioned. View his Fool profile here.