What: Shares of home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR) surged 42% in March, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The struggling retailer got a boost following a preliminary earnings report on March 7 that showed its sales sliding less than expected.
So what: Pier 1's revenue fell 1.3% in the quarter that ended Feb. 27, but that was better than the company's guidance of a 2%-4% decline and analyst expectations of a 3.9% decrease. On the bottom line, management said it expected earnings per share to come in at $0.18-$0.22, in line with estimates of $0.20. CEO Alex Smith noted "positive customer response to our holiday and seasonal assortments" and said the company was able to reduce inventory levels by 15% from a year ago, a move that should help lower costs and boost efficiency.
Comparable sales, which include e-commerce, were down 0.7%, better than the company's guidance of a 2%-4% drop.
Now what: Shares of Pier 1 spiked 33% on the day of the earnings report, capping a rally that began when the broad market bottomed out in February. Since Feb. 11, the stock has gained 75%. After two disappointing quarters, the preliminary earnings seemed to restore the market's faith in the home furnishings specialist -- but with revenue still falling, I'd question the stock's ability to keep climbing.
CEO Smith noted the company will launch a TV ad campaign in April, which could help drive sales momentum positive. We'll learn more when the company delivers its complete full-year earnings report on April 13.