Charlotte Russe's (Nasdaq: CHIC) first-quarter results didn't look too frumpy. That's good news, considering what a difficult time many retailers are facing.

The apparel retailer's first-quarter net income increased a mere 0.7% to $14 million, or $0.56 per share. However, it beat analysts' expectations by a penny. Sales increased 13.9% to $238.2 million, and same-store sales increased 1.5%.

None of this is surprising, since the retailer recently disclosed its sales data and upped its guidance. In the conference call, Charlotte Russe management gave the heads-up that some sales will shift out of the third quarter and into the second, because of the timing of Easter and spring break in March. It also stuck with previous guidance going forward.   

Regardless of the volatile ups and downs of retail stocks here lately, things look reassuring for this company at the moment, since it hasn't had to warn like many retailers have. American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO), Chico's (NYSE: CHS), and Ann Taylor (NYSE: ANN) all spring to mind as retailers that recently reduced their fourth-quarter guidance. Charlotte Russe also gave the good news that it has been comps-positive so far in January, pointing out that January is a month generally impacted by clearances and transitions for coming spring merchandise.

For the long term, Charlotte Russe management said in the conference call, they've been talking with a consultant about several strategic points. First, they're discussing the all-important task of driving productivity in the company's existing concept; second, they're working on making sure its coming store growth is productive and profitable, focusing on the real estate element; and third, they're pondering plans for a second concept. Ever since Charlotte Russe divested itself of the flagging concept Rampage, a reasonable long-term concern has been the eventual saturation point for its core concept, so it's good to know the company's addressing that.

Given some of the retail carnage lately, and difficulties with sluggish consumer spending and traffic, it's nice to see that Charlotte Russe didn't have any particularly negative news to share. Charlotte Russe has been soundly battered over the course of the last year, with its stock price down 51% and a current P/E of just 11 (compare that to a P/E of 17 for the overall retail apparel industry). I still believe this stock has been overly punished, and right now, it looks like there's reason for some cautious optimism. Charlotte Russe just might be one of the stocks that rises to the challenges in retail.   

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