Urban retailer Citi Trends Inc. blew past analysts’ estimates with a 57 percent increase in first-quarter profits and raised its full-year guidance for both earnings and same-store sales, but investors sent shares down 8.7 percent Wednesday.


For the three months ended May 1, the Savannah, Ga.-based specialty retailer posted net income of $12.4 million, or 86 cents a diluted share, 19 cents above the average of analysts’ estimates carried by Yahoo Finance. In the comparable 2009 period, profits were $7.9 million, or 54 cents.


Sales expanded 26.8 percent to $181.4 million from $143.1 million and rose 9.6 percent on a comparable-store basis. Gross margin was essentially flat at 39.9 percent of sales.


The company raised its full-year guidance to EPS of $1.75 to $1.80 a share, up from the $1.60 to $1.65 range provided in March, and boosted its comp projection for the year by a point to an increase of 4 percent to 5 percent.


Bruce Smith, senior vice president and chief financial officer, told analysts on a conference call that comps were down 8.9 percent in April, largely because of the shift in Easter. The combination of March and April constituted an 8.9 percent increase.


However, comps in the first two weeks of May have been flat, with poor weather in the northern part of the country producing declines that have been offset by better results to the south. “The further south you go, the higher the comps,” David Alexander, president and chief executive officer, told analysts.
Shares ended the day at $30.49, down $2.89.

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