SAN FRANCISCO -- Shares of home-decor retailer Pier 1 Imports ( PIR) surged almost 16% Tuesday, recovering some of their value from a deep drop last week.Shares were trading at $5.57 Tuesday afternoon, up 76 cents. They had fallen 26% last Monday and Tuesday, hitting a 52-week low of $4.41 before clawing their way to close at $4.81 in the previous session. While there was no news specifically to account for Tuesday's gains, investors may have been taking their cues from company insiders. Several executives filed statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday disclosing purchases of the stock. Midday Tuesday, CEO Alex Smith disclosed that he accumulated 40,000 Pier 1 shares on Friday, the last trading day of the third quarter. The stock's recent wild ride started on Sept. 20, after the company reported a second-quarter loss of $43.4 million. Quarterly sales at Pier 1 fell 7% and same-stores sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, dropped 3.6%. Adrianne Shapira, an analyst for Goldman Sachs, wrote last week that Pier 1 may be facing pressure from a negative consumer environment, along with the residual effects from Bombay Company's bankruptcy filing on the same day that Pier 1 reported its second-quarter results. "That said, PIR stock has disproportionately suffered versus its home specialty peers, which have declined only 5.8% on average over the same time period" last Monday and Tuesday, Sharpira wrote in her research.
David Magee, an analyst for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, says investors may have feared that Pier 1 would head down the same path as the Bombay Company because its shares have also been trading under $10. But those fears may have been exaggerated. "Pier 1 is not nearly in as dire a situation as Bombay was," Magee says, pointing out that Pier 1 still has over $100 million in cash on its balance sheet. Magee gives Pier 1 a mixed appraisal, noting that the company has taken steps to control costs but its sales and gross margins have suffered greatly. He also credits Pier 1 for introducing new merchandise with better pricing into the stores. It still, however, has trouble driving customer traffic. "People can't figure out what to think of this one right now," Magee says. Shapira sees Pier 1 as a buying opportunity. "Our conviction remains strong that this management team can drive meaningful shareholder value creation over the next one to two years through better merchandising, tightened supply chain and reduced cost structure," she wrote.