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Why Pool Corporation Stock Rose 12% in April

John Ballard, The Motley Fool

What happened

Shares of Pool Corporation (NASDAQ: POOL) gained 11.4% in value last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Despite challenging weather conditions, the world's largest wholesale distributor of swimming pool supplies delivered a better-than-expected first quarter, with continued growth on the top and bottom lines.

A plush backyard swimming pool with exotic plants and palm trees.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

So what

Pool stock has steadily marched upward for the last several years on the back of healthy residential construction activity. The company lost between $10 million and $15 million in sales in the first quarter due to unfavorable weather, but Pool still saw an increase in sales of 2% year over year, reaching $597.5 million. 

Pool's builders reported a healthy backlog of demand, so management believes it can make up the shortfall on the top line in the short term. 

Strategic inventory buys and a deferral of customer early buys helped gross margin improve by 90 basis points to 29.2%. That extra margin helped grow earnings per share by 7% year over year, or 11% excluding the effect of the tax benefits in 2018 and 2019. 

Now what

Management pointed out that home construction hasn't been particularly strong lately, but if home values remain stable, there should be a healthy environment for demand in the near term, especially for renovations. 

Based on first-quarter results, management raised its 2019 guidance for earnings to a range of $6.09 to $6.39 per share, up from the previous guidance range of $6.05 to $6.35. Analysts expect the company to grow sales by 8.1% this year and 7.5% in 2020. 

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John Ballard has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Pool. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.