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What: Shares of teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters
So what: It's been a tough slog for retailers as consumers continue to muddle through deleveraging their balance sheets and dealing with high unemployment. American Eagle, though, showed a bright spot on the top line in its third quarter by growing total sales 11% to $832 million and easily exceeding the $791 million expectation from Wall Street analysts. Comparable-store sales rose 5% after gaining just 1% for the same period in 2010.
The bottom line wasn't quite as exciting, but the $0.27 in earnings per share matched expectations. It was, however, down from the adjusted $0.29 earned a year ago.
Now what: When it comes to earnings releases, investors are often less concerned about what the company earned last quarter and more concerned about what it will earn next quarter. On that point, American Eagle's guidance was worth cheering. The company said:
"Strong sales over Thanksgiving weekend were driven by increased traffic and conversion. Powerful unit sales growth reflected a positive customer response to the holiday assortment and planned promotions."
The strong Thanksgiving weekend encouraged management to set its fourth-quarter per-share profit guidance at a range of $0.40 and $0.44, easily above the $0.39 that Wall Street had on its radar.
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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter, @KoppTheFool, or on Facebook. The Fool’s disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.