Dress Barn (NASDAQ:DBRN) is dressing for success in more ways than one. The specialty apparel retailer caters to career-oriented and fashion-minded women. Pitching products to success-minded customers seems to be working -- today its stock is up more than 20% in recent trading following the release of its first-quarter results.

The company saw revenues rocket 61.8% higher, to $318.9 million. The inclusion of its maurices brands in this period's results is a major reason for the substantial increase; maurices wasn't acquired until January 2005, so it wasn't included in the year-ago period. Same-store sales, however, did include maurices in the year-ago period, but this metric still managed to pull out 9% growth.

The acquisition benefited margins as well. Gross margins increased 12.2 percentage points to 41.4%, as the company capitalized on economies of scale in integrating maurices.

All these improvements resulted in an earnings blowout. Dress Barn's earnings per share increased 167% to $0.64 for the first quarter. Not a bad way to start fiscal 2006. And because its first quarter was so impressive, Dress Barn's leadership revised anticipated FY 2006 earnings to a new range of $1.90 to $1.95, up from its original estimate of $1.60 to $1.65.

One of the primary reasons for its success is that its product continues to "trend-right," in CEO David Jaffe's words. In previous coverage of Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) and Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Gap (NYSE:GPS), I've mentioned that in the world of apparel, cool rules. Look at what shares of the eminently fashionable Guess? (NYSE:GES) shares have done. Dress Barn has similarly assembled the right ingredients to appeal to professional women, and its stock has now doubled over the past 12 months.

Even with the latest 20% jump in share price, the company is only trading at roughly 18 times estimated earnings. Given this kind of top-line growth and improvements to margins, I think Dress Barn is still reasonably priced. If I were a shareholder -- alas, I'm not -- I'd stay put in this particular barn.

Further fashionable Foolishness:

  • Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN) also had a sharp-looking quarter.
  • Whereas Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD) has been, well, limited.
  • And a couple Fools are wishing they never sold Chico's (NYSE:CHS).

Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares of any companies mentioned.