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Why Williams-Sonoma Shares Jumped

Wednesday - 3/20/2013, 8:19pm  ET

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Williams-Sonoma jumped as much as 12% today, after the high-end retailer delivered a strong fourth quarter and a dividend increase.

So what: Net income at the Pottery Barn and West Elm parent increased 9% to $1.34 a share, which beat estimates by $0.05, and revenue rose 11% to $1.41 billion with gains in all channels. The retail chain did benefit from an extra week in the calendar. Williams-Sonoma surprised investors by hiking its quarterly dividend to 41 cents from 31 cents a year ago, and announcing a $750 million share buyback program, or 13% of the company's market cap, to be carried out over the next three years.

Now what: The company's guidance for the year was disappointing as it said it expects an EPS of $2.65-$2.75 for the year against the analyst consensus of $2.82, but the market didn't seem concerned. This is a strong upscale brand that should improve along with the overall economy, and its commitment to returning capital to shareholders is a definite bonus. I'd expect shares to continue to move higher from here.

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