Ascena Retail Group Inc. (ASNA): Today's Featured Retail Winner

Ascena Retail Group ( ASNA) pushed the Retail industry higher today making it today's featured retail winner. The industry as a whole closed the day down 0.8%. By the end of trading, Ascena Retail Group rose 23 cents (1.3%) to $18.43 on light volume. Throughout the day, 1.6 million shares of Ascena Retail Group exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.3 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $17.98-$18.46 after having opened the day at $18.21 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $18.20. Other companies within the Retail industry that increased today were: E-Commerce China Dangdang ( DANG), up 9.5%, Orchard Supply Hardware ( OSH), up 7.8%, dELiA*s ( DLIA), up 6.4%, and Overstock.com ( OSTK), up 5.2%.

Ascena Retail Group, Inc. operates as a specialty retailer of apparel for women and tween girls in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The company operates its stores under the dressbarn, maurices, and Justice brand names. Ascena Retail Group has a market cap of $2.9 billion and is part of the services sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 16, above the average retail industry P/E ratio of 15.8 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 145% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are seven analysts that rate Ascena Retail Group a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and three rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ascena Retail Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, reasonable valuation levels, revenue growth, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front, Whirlpool Corporation ( WHR), down 7.5%, Bon-Ton Stores ( BONT), down 7.3%, SUPERVALU ( SVU), down 7.2%, and ValueVision Media ( VVTV), down 5.9%, were all laggards within the retail industry with Limited Brands ( LTD) being today's retail industry laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the retail industry could consider SPDR S&P Retail ETF ( XRT) while those bearish on the retail industry could consider ProShares Ultra Sht Consumer Goods ( SZK).
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