March 1, 2012 / 12:21 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Pier 1 Imports 4th-qtr sales beat, sees strong margins

* Q4 rev $477 mln vs est. $469.9 mln

* Sees Q4 adj EPS $0.47-$0.48 vs est. $0.47

March 1 (Reuters) - Home goods chain Pier 1 Imports Inc posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter sales and forecast profit that could edge past market estimates on better gross margins.

Pier 1 has been offering more smaller decorative items such as side tables, rather than bulky big-ticket goods like couches and wardrobes, in a bid to win more shoppers.

"Our spring, outdoor and Easter product assortments are pacing ahead of last year and ... this momentum will carry into the first quarter," Chief Executive Alex Smith said in a statement.

The retailer projected a fourth-quarter profit of 47 to 48 cents a share, excluding a tax benefit, while analysts are expecting earnings of 47 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Pier 1, which competes with larger rivals Bed Bath and Beyond and Williams Sonoma Inc, said gross margins are expected to grow to about 45.5 percent from 42.8 percent, last year.

Sales for the quarter ended Feb. 25 rose 12 percent to $477 million, topping Wall Street estimates of $469.9 million. Same-store sales jumped 10.3 percent.

Pier 1 shares closed at $17.17 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Ranjita Ganesan; Editing by Viraj Nair)

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