A quarter ago when I last looked into Christopher & Banks
Net sales for the second quarter were up a stout 19% compared to the same period a year ago. A part of this growth came from new store openings, as the company has added 51 stores in the first half of the year, bringing the total to 753. But a significant factor in driving the top line was sales from stores that have been open more than a year -- comparable same-stores sales increased a very healthy 8%.
Customer traffic has remained brisk as shoppers are going for the retailer's more casual, "wear now" merchandise assortments. "Wear now" merchandise (jeans, casual wear, sweaters, etc.) is the hot-ticket item right now. In Ann Taylor's
Such is the nature of the fashion industry . if you are not one step ahead of the fashion curve, you're falling two steps behind. Fortunately for Christopher & Banks shareholders, management is optimistic that it continues to carry what customers are looking for, and is expecting solid results as it enters into the holiday season. The company has once again raised its earnings guidance for the full year, to the current level of $1.14 to $1.16 per diluted share. For perspective, last year it earned $0.84 per share.
In summary, there is a lot to like about what's going on at Christopher & Banks. Inventories remain lean (on a per-store basis, down 2% from year-ago levels), profit margins are expanding, and as a nice added bonus, the company is buying back shares of its own stock. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you are looking to research a solid retailer in the women's apparel market, this is one enterprise not to be overlooked.
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