NEW YORK — Pleased with better-than-expected January same-store sales results, investors were lured into the retail sector last week, which drove up stock prices.

In turn, the WWD Composite Stock Index closed the week up 2.4 percent to 1,146.12. The S&P 500 finished the week up 2.7 percent to 1,203.03.

One stock that jumped significantly was American Eagle Outfitters Inc., which announced a two-for-one stock split on Friday.

The specialty retailer said its board approved the split, which closes on Valentine’s Day. This is the fifth split for American Eagle. Shares of the company finished the week up 9.4 percent to $54.13.

Valuations in the sector have seesawed for the past month. Some analysts are expecting a rally to build in February and March.

Regarding executive changes last week, Mark Bienstock joined Westgate Financial Corp. as a senior vice president on Jan. 25, following a stint at DCD Capital here.

With more than 20 years experience in the factoring industry, Bienstock began his career at CIT in 1986. He left in 1993 to join China Trust Bank, where he launched China Trust’s factoring division. After six years at the bank, he moved on to DCD Capital. Hoboken, N.J.-based Westgate is an independent factoring institution that offers trade and financial services to start-ups, small to midsize businesses, rapidly growing companies and turnaround situations. Westgate offers factoring on a nonrecourse basis as well as inventory facilities, purchase order funding and letter-of-credit programs.

Bruce L. Cohen, president and chief executive officer of Westgate, said, “We pride ourselves on our reputation for our one-to-one relationships with our clients. Mark’s strong factoring background, sterling reputation and great people skills can only further enhance that reputation.”

WWD Composite Stock Index vs. S&P 500

This story first appeared in the February 7, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.