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Gap Soars to a New High

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Shares of Gap Inc. (GPS - Free Report) soared to a new 52-week high of $42.45 on Wednesday, Jun 19, after it reported strong comparable-store sales (comps) for the month of May and robust first-quarter fiscal 2013 results. The premier international specialty retailer eventually closed trade at $41.74, reflecting a solid year-to-date return of 33.1%.

Based on the current price, this global specialty apparel retailer is 5.8% lower than the Zacks Consensus average analyst price target of $44.32. Additionally, the company’s long-term estimated EPS growth rate is 11.8%, which is relatively healthy.

Average volume of shares traded over the last 3 months stands at approximately 3,692K. Moreover, the stock currently trades at a forward P/E of 15.4x, at par with the peer group average.

Gap, which has transitioned through a phase of decreasing comparable-store sales and reduced profitability, is now set for growth, riding on its turnaround strategies as evident from its solid comps and sales performance so far in fiscal 2013.

Gap reported comps increase of 7% for the 4 weeks ended Jun 1, 2013 compared with a 2% rise registered for the 4 weeks ended Jun 2, 2012, driven by strong results at its namesake Gap and Old Navy stores. Moreover, net sales totaled $1.22 billion for the 4 weeks ended Jun 1, 2013, up 11% compared with sales of $1.10 billion for the 4 weeks ended May 26, 2012.

With respect to earnings surprises, Gap has topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate in 3 of the trailing 4 quarters with an average surprise of 2.6%.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2013, the company’s earnings of 71 cents a share soared 51.1% from the comparable prior-year quarter and were above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 69 cents per share. Gap’s net sales increased 6.9% year over year to $3,729 million and surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3,707 million. Comps rose 2% compared with a 4% increase in the year-ago quarter.

In early June, Gap announced plans to take its global expansion plans a notch higher with the opening of franchise and standalone stores in Paraguay, Hungary and Mexico. Apart from this, the company is planning to extend its international operations to 8 Latin American countries, including, Chile, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru and Brazil.

Gap has been marching ahead with its long-term plans by reducing its dependency on the North American specialty business, while increasing its online presence and expanding international operations. Moreover, Gap aims to generate 30% of its total sales from overseas operations and online business in 2013 versus 27% in fiscal 2012.

Other stocks in the retail space that touched all-time highs on Wednesday, Jun 19 are Kroger Co. (KR - Free Report) , PVH Corp. (PVH - Free Report) and V.F. Corp. (VFC - Free Report) , which reached $35.64, $126.99 and $193.09, respectively.

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