Select Comfort's stock rises 10.3% on sales growth

  • Article by: Dee DePass
  • Star Tribune
  • April 22, 2014 - 10:41 AM

Select Comfort’s stock jumped more than 10 percent a share on Monday, the first day of trading after its first quarter surpassed Wall Street’s reve­nue forecasts by $3 million.

Shares of the Plymouth-based company surged $1.83 a share to close at $19.58. Company officials declined to comment Monday about investor reaction, but the latest results bolstered the beleaguered stock that has been trading at half its 2012 levels.

The stock has sunk because the maker of luxury Sleep Number beds had missed Wall Street’s earnings forecasts for several consecutive quarters. The latest quarter, however, was more in line with expectations, only missing profit estimates by a penny.

Company officials said they are making long-term investments aimed at growth but in the interim the company has suffered through slow holiday sales and higher-than-expected costs for new-product development, advertising, media planning and new-store openings.

Select Comfort reported first-quarter results just after the market closed for the Easter weekend on Thursday. Earnings fell 27 percent to $17 million or 31 cents a share. At the same time, revenue jumped a surprising 7 percent to $276 million.

Analysts noted that investors reacted positively to the revenue news.

CEO Shelly Ibach told analysts during a conference call Thursday that the first quarter was hurt by bitter winter storms that caused stores to close across the country. However, results bounced back in March as consumers responded to new television ads and products designed to boost brand awareness and store traffic.

Select Comfort manufactures its dual-control air-beds, and sells them through a network of 440 mall-based and stand-alone retail stores. Ibach said the company plans to open 20 to 30 net new stores in 2014 and will continue to focus on new-product development.

In the last four months, the company introduced a high-tech sleep-monitoring bed that can measure and record sleep patterns, stop snoring, give a massage, or raise the head on just one side of the bed.

While investors appeared to respond positively to the first-quarter development, some analysts were not convinced that the new bells and whistles signaled a major turnaround.

Piper Jaffray Equity Research Analyst Peter Keith said in a research note to investors Friday, “We applaud management’s effort in driving unique mattress innovation, but at this time we are unable to point to a quarter where we will see consistent unit growth [comparisons] going forward.”

Keith noted that the company was enjoying some price increases on select beds, but also found that unit sales had fallen. “We remain concerned that Select Comfort continues to have problems driving unit sales.”

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