Pier 1 Imports (PIR) - Get Report actually swung to a profit in its first quarter, and while it wasn't because shoppers are running out to buy home furnishing items, it's still good news for the company.

Pier 1 managed to lower its debt, which resulted in earnings of $29.3 million, or 32 cents a share, far exceeding analysts' expectations of a loss of 36 cents. This compares with a loss of $32.8 million, or 37 cents, in the year-ago period.

One could, of course, argue that it's all just bookkeeping. The retailer said a foreign subsidiary bought outstanding convertible senior notes during the quarter for $27 million. The purchase lowered its outstanding debt by $79 million and led to a $48 million gain.

But Pier 1 is still having trouble on the selling floor. Sales declined 9% to $281.1 million from $310 million, as fewer stores are being opened and consumers are cutting back on home products.

Total same-store sales slipped 7.5%.

Shares in the company surged by as much as 20% higher, to $2.43, in pre-market trading, on the initial announcement of the profit. During morning trading, however, the stock was settling, trading hands at 11 a.m. at $2.04, or an increase of 5% from Wednesday night's close, on significantly higher-than-average volume.

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