Burlington Stores: Zacks’ Bull of the Day Play

Burlington Stores, Inc. (BURL – Snapshot Report) escaped the second quarter relatively unscathed as same store sales and gross margin both rose. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is bucking the negative retail trend, as it is expected to see double digit earnings growth this year and next.

Burlington Stores operates an off-price retail chain with 470 stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico.

While the company goes under the name Burlington Stores, most people know it by the name Burlington Coat Factory. In addition to coats, however, it carries clothing and shoes as well as linens and home decor.

Big Beat in the Fiscal Second Quarter

On Sep 9, Burlington Stores reported its fiscal second quarter results and bucked the negative trend of many of the retailers this earnings season by easily beating the Zacks Consensus by $0.08. Earnings were a loss of $0.01 compared to the Zacks Consensus of a loss of $0.09.

Same store sales jumped 47.% as gross margin expanded 50 basis points to 38.2% from 37.7% in the second quarter of fiscal 2013.

In the first half of fiscal 2014, which included some of the polar vortex winter, comparable stores sales rose 3.6% following a 5.5% increase in the first half of fiscal 2013.

Inventories fell 18% to $711.5 million from $748.3 million a year ago due to an ongoing initiative to reduce inventory levels, which is what you want to see with a retailer.

Raised Full Year Guidance

With a solid fiscal second quarter and trends looking good into Q3, Burlington Stores raised its fiscal 2014 guidance. Same store sales are expected to be about 3% for the year, which is at the high end of the company’s prior guidance.

Earnings are expected in the range of $1.52 to $1.58, up from its previous guidance of $1.25 to $1.35.

The analysts had already been bullish on Burlington Stores even before this solid report.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2014 has jumped to $1.52 from $1.37 in the last 90 days. That is earnings growth of 76.5%.

Shares Trend Higher

Shares of Burlington Stores have been moving gradually higher over the last year and got an initial boost from the earnings report.

But the stock isn’t cheap. It trades with a forward P/E of 23.8.

This is a case where investors are buying the company’s earnings growth. Analysts expect the earnings strength to continue into fiscal 2015 with earnings expected to grow another 25%.

For those looking for a retailer in a time when the retail environment is difficult, Burlington Stores is one to keep on the short list.

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Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. She is also the Editor of the Insider Trader and Value Investor services. You can follow her on twitter at @TraceyRyniec.

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