Shares opened 3% higher yesterday, after the hardwood-flooring retailer raised its projections for fourth quarter and annual sales. However, the floorboards gave way, with the stock cratering by 5% by the end of the day.
The bearishness didn't fade away after a good night's sleep. Lumber Liquidators opened 3% lower this morning.
Was it that bad? Did the market have the press release upside down?
For starters, the only reason Lumber Liquidators jumped the gun with its refreshed guidance for 2009 -- more than a month before it's slated to post its fourth-quarter results -- is that the chain had a presentation later in the day during yesterday's 2010 Cowen and Company Consumer Conference. Under the rules of fair disclosure, if it wants to discuss preliminary results with the audience there, it has to let the public know, too.
The company's expectations for the year-ending quarter were spectacular. Net sales climbed by nearly 18%, to $137 million, fueled by a 5.5% spike in comps and the company's healthy expansion pace. It added nine more hardwood outlets during the quarter to close out 2009 with 186 locations.
For all of 2009, Lumber Liquidators sees net sales growing by 13%, to $544 million on flat comps. It now sees earnings per share coming in between $0.95 and $0.97, above its previous range of $0.90 to $0.95. The retailer earned $0.75 before a one-time accrual benefit in 2008.
The news is good, but investors were probably expecting even more. Lumber Liquidators has handily beaten Wall Street's bottom-line estimates in all but one quarter since going public nearly three years ago. However, even the lone holdout quarter was still in line with expectations.
Having comps turn decisively positive is a great development, especially since home-improvement superstore giants Home Depot
The rub is that shares of Lumber Liquidators more than doubled last year and have gone on to more than triple since their March lows. Still, it's hard not to like a housing-related play that managed to grow earnings by 27% to 29% during a crummy 2009.
It's not fair that Lumber Liquidators has had to walk the plank this week, but it does give opportunistic buyers the chance to snap up a recession-resilient retailer at an attractive price.
Lumber Liquidators is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Home Depot and Lowe's are Inside Value picks. Bed Bath & Beyond is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz had hardwood flooring put into each of his past two homes, but long before Lumber Liquidators popped up in town. He owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.