Over the next three years, Pier 1 Imports (NYSE: PIR) plans to invest a total of $200 million in aggressive store and product improvements, new stores, e-commerce, technology, and infrastructure. Pretty ambitious for a company that was on the verge of delisting two years back. Do its current numbers justify its ambition?

The numbers
The home-furnishings retailer reported strong quarterly numbers last week. The stock fell 4.2% on the news as the numbers disappointed the Street, even though the company's bottom line almost doubled to $14.1 million from the year-ago quarter, boosted by increasing traffic and same-store sales.

Revenues grew by 9% year over year to $334.6 million. The average receipt per customer also improved, and sales per square foot were up to $171 from $155. Operating margin improved from 2.7% last year to 5.9% in the latest period, indicating efficiency in cost management. Same-store sales also jumped 10.2% this quarter, though that number was down from last year's 14.3% surge.

These numbers indicate that the company's underlying performance is improving. That's especially commendable at a time when retail giants such as Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Gap (NYSE: GPS) have failed to see much headway in their comparable numbers, hurt by fierce competition and rising input costs.

Bigger plans
Most retail chains today are looking to expand intelligently and with discipline. Bed Bath & Beyond (Nasdaq: BBBY) anticipates 45 store openings this year, and SUPERVALU (NYSE: SVU) is planning 160 new store openings for its Save-A-Lot value brand in fiscal 2012. As part of its aggressive growth plan, Pier 1 is targeting $200 in sales per square foot and operating margins of 10% within three years. For the year upcoming, it plans to open 12 stores and close another seven, as part of its general growth and optimization plan. In the next five years, it plans to open 80 stores and close 30.

A low debt/equity ratio of 2.2% and interest coverage of 34.4 also gives the company the cushion to assume additional debt for expansion, if needed.

Silencing the critics
Analysts had written this company off for dead. In March 2009, shares were trading at a mere dime. In May, they topped $12, and the company is returning value to shareholders through a repurchasing program of up to $100 million in shares, or about 7.5% of the total.

With good numbers, increasing cash balances, and strong growth plans in place, Pier 1 looks poised to do well in the future. Foolish investors should take note.