) at strong buy and $9 target.
Analyst Budd Bugatch notes his -2% same-store sales estimate, but observes sales trends improved through the month. He says inventories at the end of December were roughly in line with expectations, and in a much better position than a year ago.
He says the gap between expectations and delivery has narrowed. The company struggled through a year of horrendous sales, created by extraordinarily high comparable sales in 2003.
Bugatch notes the stock remains only slightly above its $4.88 book value. He expects sales to turn positive in the first-quarter of fiscal 2006, vs. -9% a year-ago. Optimistic earnings per share estimates will begin moving higher at that point.