NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Sealy Corp. ( ZZ) jumped on light volume in late trades on Tuesday after the mattress maker reported a surprise profit in its fiscal first quarter. The Trinity, N.C.-based company posted net income from continuing operations of $1.6 million, or a penny per share, for the three months ended Feb. 26 on sales of $312.3 million. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a loss of 2 cents a share in the quarter on sales of $301.8 million. Sealy cited strength in gross margin for its U.S. business as a driver for the better than expected performance. The company said U.S. gross margin rose 0.8 percentage points to 38.7% because of better pricing and a favorable shift in product mix stemming from the successful launch of its higher priced Next Generation Stearns & Foster products.
The stock was last quoted at $2.17, up 15.4%, on volume of more than 33,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Based on Tuesday's regular-session close at $1.88, the shares were already up more than 10% so far in 2012. "We delivered positive financial and operational performance in the first quarter of 2012," said Larry Rogers, the company's president and CEO, in a statement. "Our positive sales, gross margin and Adjusted EBITDA performance for the quarter were driven by the success of our Next Generation Stearns & Foster line, which began shipping in Q4, 2011." Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) rose 21.2% year-over-year to $36.4 million. "As we look forward in 2012, we are focused on driving continued performance of the new Stearns & Foster line at retail, and initiating the rollouts of the new, value priced Sealy Promotional Line, and the premium priced Optimum by Sealy Posturepedic line," Rogers added. "These two lines were introduced at the January 2012 Las Vegas Furniture Market and will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2012." Check out TheStreet's quote page for Sealy for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.