Total first-quarter sales growth continued at a double-digit pace, at 11.8%. Same-store sales improved a very respectable 3.9% because shoppers seem to like the move to higher-end fashion lines and higher-margin private label merchandise.
Solid sales trends and slower cost growth translated into 24.9% profit growth for the quarter. CEO Larry Montgomery said: "We are pleased with our performance for the first quarter. All lines of business posted positive comparable sales increases, as did all regions of the country. At the same time, we saw significant improvement in our gross margin rate and continued to manage our expenses with our sales growth."
A strong start to the fiscal year also caused management to increase earnings guidance for the full year. It's now calling for diluted earnings of $3.75 to $3.87 and plans to keep aggressively opening new locations. By the end of the year, Kohl's expects to grow its store base 13%.
Rival J.C. Penney
With only 834 stores throughout the country, Kohl's looks to have plenty of room to expand its store base. The stock has one of the higher price-to-sales and price-to-earnings multiples in the industry, but not considerably higher. Given its ambitions and stellar record at opening new stores and keeping trends strong at the existing ones, Kohl's could be worth a further look. A good time to ante up may be during a period of weaker near-term comparable store trends, which could send more myopic investors running for the hills.
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further.