) raised its fourth-quarter EPS guidance. Lehman Brothers raised its estimates on Pier 1.
Analyst Alan Rifkin tells Standard & Poor's MarketScope that 14% higher calendar-year December same-store sales growth was well above his 10% estimate. He notes the company will report fiscal-year December (ending Jan. 5) same-store sales on Jan. 10, with expected 8%-10% growth. Importantly, notes Rifkin, the company once again raised guidance. It now sees $0.44-$0.46 fourth-quarter EPS; he sees higher end of the range. Rifkin raised his $0.95 fiscal 2002 (Feb.) EPS estimate to $0.99, and his $1.10 fiscal 2003 forecast to $1.15. He says encouraging store traffic is the primary driver. Despite the recent run-up in price, he says, the shares still trade at a 50% discount to the company's peers. Rifkin continues to like the shares at current levels.