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What: Shares of Christopher & Banks Corporation (NYSE:CBK) were moving higher today, gaining as much as 17% and finishing 10% higher on a strong earnings report.
So what: The clothing seller said profit improved from $0.02 a share a year ago to $0.07 a share, better than the $0.02 analysts expected as profitability improved while the company's store base decreased by nearly 10% over the year. Gross margin increased 250 basis points to 36.7%, evidence that the strategy is working, though same-store sales fell 0.2% and overall revenue declined 4.7% to $103.4 million, essentially in line with estimates of $103.2 million
Now what: Like many retailers, Christopher & Banks said poor winter weather had an impact on sales, as comps came in below expectations, but CEO LuAnn Via said business improved along with the weather and the company "realized momentum on its strategic initiatives." Looking ahead, management sees a same-store-sales increase of low to mid-single digits in the current quarter, surpassing a 7.7% increase a year ago, and it expects a gross margin improvement of 100 to 150 basis points. With the store closure portion of strategy now mostly behind it, the company is focusing on growth in its Missy, Petite, and Women stores, which are outperforming the rest of the company and should lead to greater profits. Considering the modest expectations for Christopher & Banks for the rest of the year, beat I wouldn't be surprised to see more earnings beats down the line.
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