Abercrombie & Fitch's stock surged more than 30% Wednesday, logging the biggest one-day jump since its stock market debut in 1996.
The big move came as the teen retail giant posted its first quarter of year-over-year profit growth in a year. For the three months ended Oct. 27, Abercrombie earned $71.5 million, or 87 cents per share, up 40% from a year earlier. Overall revenue rose 9% for the quarter to $1.2 billion, as international sales soared 37%. The results handily beat analysts' expectations.
Abercrombie also impressed investors by boosting its forecast for the year, which also topped analysts' expectations. The company is now looking to earn between $2.85 and $3 a share for its fiscal year, up from a previous projection of $2.50 to $2.75 a share.
Another reason Abercrombie's stock is seeing a lot of traction is due to a so-called short squeeze.
Shares of Abercrombie are among the most heavily shorted in the S&P 500 (SPX), meaning that buyers have borrowed the stock on a bet that its price will fall. As the stock rallies, short sellers rush in to to buy the stock in order to cover their short position before it heads even higher, hence the short squeeze.
As Abercrombie (ANF) remained the top gainer in the S&P 500 Wednesday, traders on StockTwits analyzed the stock's significant advance.
In a note to clients, Brian Sozzi, chief equtiy analyst at NGB Productions, seemed skeptical that Abercrombie was headed toward a fundamental turnaround.
"The question will be this: As the shorts get squeezed in the early going, is Abercrombie back in a big way in the malls or was this some kind of freakish one-off type quarter?" Sozzie wrote. "I don't believe Abercrombie is suddenly the share winner in teen apparel land, and what is being seen today is management of Street expectations and perhaps, top line related leverage from prior flagship store openings."
One undeniable strength, however, is Abercrombie's growth abroad. International sales account for 30% of the retailer's total sales and Abercrombie operates more than 100 stores overseas.
During the third quarter, the company opened 11 new locations, including a flagship store in Hong Kong.
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