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A production line at Ford Motor Co. of Canada’s plant in Oakville, Ont. The company is a customer of auto parts firm Martinrea International.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

No ZZZ on ZZZ, please: Sleep Country Canada Holdings Inc. said Thursday it racked up 42 cents per share in profit, a consensus-beating number that may lay to rest doubts that saw the shares trade closer to 52-week lows than highs.

Analysts expected 33 cents of "adjusted earnings per share" from the bedding retailer, according to Thomson Reuters' Eikon, so Thursday's report would mark the most meaningful beat for the company since early 2016. The company missed expectations in its previous quarter, Eikon notes, its first disappointment of 2017.

While analysts like Raymond James' Kenric S Tyghe have praised the retailer as best-in-class, it's suffered from overhang from the Sears Canada liquidation, as well as general concerns about retail sales and the potential effect of rising interest rates on consumers. The shares closed Thursday at $31.34, not far above a low set in March 2017. Through Thursday, they were down more than 5 per cent so far in 2018.

The news may awaken investors. The shares, even at their lows, still trade at a trailing price-to-earnings multiple above 20 – not a dreamy entry point for the value-conscious investor.

Auto-parts maker Martinrea Inc. reported consensus-beating numbers Thursday after markets closed, and added another piece of good news by telling investors it intends to boost its dividend by 50 per cent, to 4.5 cents each quarter.

Analysts had expected 46 cents per share of "adjusted net income," according to Eikon, but Martinrea posted 50 cents.

The company issued first-quarter guidance of $840-million to $880-million in sales and adjusted EPS in the range of 59 cents to 63 cents per share. The revenue number is below consensus of about $960-million, but the earnings guidance is above consensus of 54 cents, according to Eikon.

With a limited earnings-release calendar, Fridays see less numbers-driven action than most trading days. But there are still a few names that could move: Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. and TransAlta Corp. were scheduled to release numbers late Thursday and hold their investor calls Friday. Power-plant developer Boralex planned a Friday-morning release and call.

And George Weston Ltd., parent to Loblaw Cos. Ltd., has its earnings release scheduled for Friday as well. The company is supposed to unveil a new strategic plan along with earnings. The company has the goal to "significantly change the historical trajectory of the Weston Foods business" by targeting growth, and value-added and margin-boosting categories. Analyst Jim Durran of Barclays – who has an "underweight" rating and target price of $108 on the shares, says "these changes could take time and are likely to introduce increased short-term earnings volatility as the business transitions." Shares closed Thursday at $103.75.

In the U.S., the business impact of the Parkland school shooting continued as American Outdoor Brands Corp., the maker of Smith & Wesson guns, plunged in Thursday after-hours trading after warning of a lengthy sales slump.

Consumer demand for firearms is falling to "new, lower levels" that "may continue for some time," the company said in a statement Thursday as it reported earnings. American Outdoor said it's cutting costs and repaying debt to weather the downturn.

The diminished outlook underscored the drop in firearms sales since President Donald Trump won election in November 2016, easing a rush among gun buyers to stockpile weapons ahead of potential new federal restrictions. Gunmaker stocks have also tumbled since the Feb. 14 shooting of 17 people at a Florida high school. American Outdoor made the semiautomatic AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the attack.

While a number of U.S. retailers have delighted investors in the last week, Nordstrom Inc. reported an earnings miss after markets closed Thursday, blunting the effects of much-better-than-expected same-store sales. Perennial retail basket case J.C. Penney Corp. is scheduled to release results Friday morning.

With files from Bloomberg

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