The Fresh Market Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of specialty grocer The Fresh Market (NAS: TFM) were looking particularly fresh today as they climbed as much as 13% in intraday trading after the company announced second-quarter earnings.

So what: While analyzing a company's long-term performance can get pretty involved, investors' reactions to quarterly earnings are usually extremely simple. If the company tops analysts' expectations, buyers rush the stock like tweens at a Justin Bieber concert. This is exactly what's going on with Fresh Market today.

Second-quarter earnings came in at a fresh and tasty $0.22, up 52% from last year and above the $0.19 predicted by Wall Street. Revenue gained 13.6%, to $259.5 million, while same-store sales increased 4.6%. Growth for the quarter was driven by shoppers buying more at each visit.

Now what: A company that wants to make investors really giddy can top better-than-expected earnings with increased guidance, and Fresh Market did exactly that. The company pushed up its full-year 2011 earnings-per-share view to a range of $1.03 to $1.06, above the previous range of $1.01 to $1.05. That is still short of the average analyst estimate of $1.13, though.

With shares currently trading at nearly 34 times analysts' 2011 earnings estimates, it would seem that investors are betting on The Fresh Market seeing the kind of success and growth that Whole Foods Market (NAS: WFM) has. Could it happen? Sure, but it looks like a richly priced bet.

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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Whole Foods Market. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Whole Foods Market and The Fresh Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferdoes not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter@KoppTheFoolorFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policylikes Justin Bieber's new hairstyle.

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