) posted $0.12, vs. $0.11, first quarter earnings per share on 2.6% higher same-store sales. The company set growth targets of 17%-19% for sales and 15%-20% for EPS in fiscal 2003. Lehman Brothers raised its estimates on the home-goods retailer.
Analyst Alan Rifkin told Standard & Poor's MarketScope the company's $0.12 EPS beat his estimate by $0.03. He says sales were encouraging, while inventories continue to be lean. He raised his "high on Street" $1.60 fiscal 2003 (Jan.) EPS estimate to $1.62 and his $1.85 projection for fiscal 2004 to $1.87. He thinks other Street analysts will follow. Rifkin believes much of the March momentum has continued into April; he forecasts 3%-4% April same store sales growth. Although the stock has had a run, Rifkin notes that it still trades at a 45% discount to rival Bed, Bath & Beyond.