Stage Sees Net in High End of Range, Comps Gain

Stage Stores Inc.'s positive comparable-store sales results and projected second-quarter earnings led to a share increase.

Stage Stores Inc.’s shares added almost 17 percent Tuesday after the retailer reported positive comparable-store sales results in June and projected that its second-quarter earnings would meet or exceed its most upbeat estimates.

This story first appeared in the July 9, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The operator of Stage, Peebles, Bealls and Palais Royal department stores said that its June sales rose 1.2 percent on a same-store basis and were up 6.4 percent, to $142 million, overall. May comps managed a 0.1 percent increase, putting the firm ahead 0.7 percent during the first two months of the second quarter.

However, investors were drawn to chief executive officer Jim Scarborough’s assertion that the Houston-based company would “be at or above the high end of our previously provided earnings forecast of 23 cents per diluted share” during the second quarter.

He also said the company would have second-quarter comps at or above the previously furnished figure of a 3 percent decline.

“Considering the challenging macroeconomic environment, we are pleased to have achieved comparable-store sales increases during the first two months of the second quarter,” he said.

For the first five months of the retail calendar, Stage’s same-store sales are down 2.9 percent.

Stage shares finished Tuesday’s New York Stock Exchange trading session at $13.81, up $1.99, or 16.8 percent, on a day when the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index advanced 2.5 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.4 percent. The majority of retailers will report results for the five-week month of June on Thursday, but Stage reported on Tuesday because of its participation in the Oppenheimer Consumer Growth Conference.