Updated from 8:42 a.m. ESTHigh concept and higher comps cheered Wall Street Thursday, as specialty stores flexed their muscle in the make-or-break December retail deluge. The group was led by American Eagle ( AEOS), which said same-store results were up more than 32% from December 2003, about twice the consensus estimate. The clothing chain, whose stock rose 188% in 2004, raised its earnings estimate for the current quarter to $1.30 or $1.31 a share, up from its old forecast of $1.08 to $1.10 a share. Shares gained $1.23, or 2.6%, to $49.15 Thursday morning. Urban Outfitters ( URBN) also had a big month, with overall comps up 16% thanks to strength at all three of its main outlet lines. Pacific Sunwear ( PSUN) posted December comps of 5.3%, about a percentage point above forecasts. Urban Outfitters' stock rose 140% last year and slipped 8 cents to $42.70 Thursday despite its report. Women's clothier Chico's ( CHS) reported an 18.6% jump in year-over-year comps, nearly triple the Wall Street forecast, and declared a 2-for-1 stock split. Chico's overall December sales rose 41.3% from last year to $128.5 million. Chico's shares were up 24% in 2004 and are up 130% over the past two years. Teen fave Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) saw same-store sales surge 10% last month and overall sales skyrocket 24% to $302.1 million. The stock doubled in 2004. Build-A-Bear ( BBW), Children's Place ( PLCE) and bebe ( BEBE) all reported blowout comps and raised earnings guidance. Costco ( COST) also had a huge month, with same-store sales up 9% from a year ago, easily beating Wall Street estimates for a 5% gain. Jos. A Bank ( JOSB) saw comps rise 16.2% and raised its full-year earnings estimate. For the country's biggest store, results were as expected. Wal-Mart ( WMT) said December comps rose 3% from a year ago, boosted by a 5.4% rise at Sam's Club. Wal-Mart put January same-store sales growth at 2% to 4%. Kohl's ( KSS) posted a better-than-expected 3.1% gain in same-store results but said fourth-quarter earnings were trending weakly. At the Gap ( GPS), same-store sales unexpectedly dipped 1% on a 7% slide in overseas results. Ann Taylor ( ANN) said overall same-store sales fell by 1.5% in December, a significantly better result than Wall Street predicted, thanks to a nearly 7% gain at its Ann Taylor Loft unit. The company affirmed earnings guidance. J.C. Penney ( JCP) reported a 1.2% decline in December comps, stronger than expected, and said fourth-quarter earnings should be at or near the Wall Street consensus of $1.05 a share. In the other column was Pier 1 ( PIR), which reported a nearly 9% decline in same-store sales compared with last year and said earnings in its current quarter will miss estimates by about 30%. Best Buy's ( BBY) December same-store sales rose 2.5%, missing estimates. The company blamed weak customer traffic, a theme observed in yesterday's lackluster report from rival Circuit City ( CC). Sears ( S) said comps fell 3%, while Toys R Us ( TOY) said they fell 3.3% in November and December. And Zale ( ZLC) said comparable-store sales for November and December fell 0.7% from a year ago due to weakness in its Zales Jewelers flagship. The company cut its quarterly earnings estimate to $1.88 to $1.91 a share.