Since I last closed on Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD) with the words, "Value hounds might have a reason to take a second look at these shares," the stock has moved up better than 10% -- not too bad for a three-month return. But if you're going to play retail turnarounds, you'd best be prepared to hang on for longer and expect more.

Limited's fourth quarter wasn't great relative to the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) or Chico's (NYSE:CHS), but that's not really the point. Management is still in the process of trying to get this business turned around and back on a growth path, so more modest expectations are in order.

To that end, the company did alright. Sales rose about 6% for the quarter, and same-store sales rose 3%. Bath & Body Works was disappointing at 1% same-store sales growth. I thought Victoria's Secret would have done better than 3% growth, but at least apparel was up 4% at the lingerie store. And while the earnings picture was clouded by charges, adjustments, gains, and so forth, the adjusted bottom-line number did manage to surpass the average analyst estimate.

Investors will also notice that the company is changing its inventory valuation methodology from the retail method to weighted average cost. This new method doesn't recognize reductions in selling prices until the merchandise is actually sold. Now, I'm not sure that I completely accept management's claim that the weighted average method is the industry standard. It's also true that changes in these kinds of accounting policies often raise caution flags with some investors. All that said, I'm not terribly concerned about the change at this point.

Once a retailer loses its mojo with the consumer, it can take a long time to fix the problem and get customers back into the stores. Just ask the folks at Gap (NYSE:GPS) or Hot Topic (NASDAQ:HOTT). Nevertheless, the Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret concepts still have good brand value and not a whole lot of direct competition. Assuming that management can figure out who they really want to target with their apparel businesses, the turnaround should still stay on track.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).