You won't find discount retailer CitiTrends (NASDAQ:CTRN) at an upscale suburban shopping mall. You won't find it in many stock portfolios. However, you also won't find it disappointing investors.

Citi Trends closed out its first fiscal year as a public company in stellar fashion. January-quarter earnings soared 62%, hitting $0.55 a share on a 46% surge in net sales.

This isn't Hot Topic (NASDAQ:HOTT) revisited. The company's dramatic upticks aren't strictly the result of breakneck expansion at the expense of lackluster sales at the store level. This past quarter, same-store sales at Citi Trends rose 22.8%. This isn't Gap (NYSE:GPS), either. Citi Trends' comp gains aren't stacked atop years of depressed levels; they follow respectable 4.6% gains during the same holiday quarter a year earlier.

Popularity at the store level may come as a surprise, given the company's eclectic locations. Citi Trends goes where many retailers don't, choosing to sell thrifty apparel in lower-income urban neighborhoods. Even the company's blowout success is unlikely to attract a lot of competitors.

That's just fine. Since Citi Trends went public last May, it has delivered the goods at the store level.



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It's mind-blowing stuff. When a company produces that kind of store-level excellence -- as Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) has -- the market is quick to anoint it as specialty retail royalty. Citi Trends is still pretty obscure, and that may spell opportunity.

The company expects to earn between $1.25 and $1.29 a share this year. That's based on a modest outlook, calling for comps to rise by just 1% to 3%. The figure seems awfully conservative, even though the company will be stacked against some huge numbers from a year ago. Citi Trends has had a slow March so far, a period that is likely to end the company's streak of seven straight months of posting double-digit same-store sales gains.

The company doesn't appear cheap at 32 times forward earnings. If it lives up to its lackluster comps and grows earnings at a mere 16% to 19% clip as projected, it won't be turning too many heads in the future. Still, do yourself a favor and add Citi Trends to your radar. If it can keep up its more recent torrid growth pace, its shares may start looking cheaper than some of its wares.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks that when opportunity knocks, you should always dust for fingerprints. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.