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Larry Thomas

Pier 1 Imports profit rises on 8.2% sales gain in quarter

FORT WORTH, Texas — Retailer Pier 1 Imports said its profits rose 9.4% in the quarter ended Nov. 26, thanks to improved merchandise margins, increased store traffic and a higher average ticket.

The retailer reported net income of $22.99 million or 21 cents per share, for the quarter. That's up from $21 million or 18 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Pre-tax income rose much more sharply, by 64.5% to $35.4 million. The company's tax provision in the latest quarter was $12.4 million but because of a loss carryforward in the comparable period last year, its tax bill then was just $496,000.

Sales totaled $382.7 million, up 8.2% from $353.8 million in the comparable period a year ago. Same-store sales rose 7%.

"Our strong product assortments, the right balance of regular and promotional pricing and a great store experience are driving robust sales and merchandise margin growth," said Alex Smith, president and CEO. "December sales so far are strong and we expect this trend to continue for the final days leading up to Christmas."

In addition to improved same-store sales, Smith said the top line was boosted by its new Pier 1 To-Go program, which allows consumers to order online and then pick up and pay for the merchandise in a store.

For the nine months ended Nov. 26, sales totaled $1.06 billion, up 9% from $969.9 million in the same period in 2010.

Nine-month net income was $53.7 million or 47 cents per share. That's an increase of 24.8% from $43.1 million or 37 cents per share in the comparable period last year.

The retailer, which carries home furnishings, decorative accessories and gifts, has approximately 1,040 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

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