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The Children's Place, Inc. (PLCE - Free Report) appears to be the only mall-based retailer that isn't just surviving, but is thriving. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) just had a blowout first quarter and raised full year guidance.

The Children's Place sells children's apparel at retail and wholesale at 1033 stores in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and online at the childrensplace.com. It also has 156 international points of distribution operated by 6 franchise partners in 18 countries.

Another Beat in the First Quarter

On May 18, The Children's Place reported its first quarter results and blew by the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 30 cents, or 18%. It reported earnings of $1.95 compared to the consensus of just $1.65.

The beat shouldn't have been that much of a surprise, as the company has one of the most consistent beat records in the retail industry. It hasn't missed on the earnings in 5 years.



But more importantly, all of its other metrics were also hot.

The all-important comparable store sales actually rose 6.1% which was on top of a solid 5.1% in the year ago quarter. This was also The Children's Place's highest first quarter comparable in a decade.

It saw positive comps both online and in its brick and mortar stores so it's not being "amazoned."

Traffic also continued to improve sequentially from the fourth quarter.

Like everyone in the industry, it's embraced online retail, stating that its online business was up "significantly" in the quarter.

Gross profit rose to $170.6 million from $165.4 million a year ago.

Inventories are also under control, up just 2.8%.

Raised Full Year Guidance

Given the hot quarter, the company raised full year earnings guidance to a range of $7.10 to $7.20 from its prior range of $6.50 to $6.65.

That is significantly above the 30 cent beat in Q1 so the company must be more bullish about future quarters.

The analysts are already raising their estimates to get in line with the new guidance.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate has risen to $7.29 from $6.63 in the last week.

That is now earnings growth of 34.3%. Not too shabby for an apparel retailer.

A Buying Opportunity?

The Children's Place shares had been one of the hottest in retail but they've recently come down off their 52-week highs and have fallen 13% in the last week.



Looks like it could be a buying opportunity.

Even with the big gains in the stock over the last year, shares are still a value. They trade with a forward P/E of just 15.2 which is under the average of the S&P 500 of 18.8.

It is also shareholder friendly. Last quarter it bought $33 million worth of shares under its share repurchase program. It still has $344 million left in that plan.

It also pays a dividend, which is currently yielding 0.9%.

For investors who want to own a retailer that is actually bucking the trends, and is crushing it at both brick and mortar stores and online, then The Children's Place should be at the top of your short list.

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