Retailers struggling to grow sales

Yet some are doing better than others.

By Wall St. Cheat Sheet Jul 9, 2012 10:21AM

By Eric McWhinnie


Major retailers posted weak sales figures last week, indicating that consumers are still struggling with high unemployment and overall weak economic conditions.

In June, same-store sales for 20 chains in the Thomson Reuters index edged up only 0.1%, well below analyst estimates of 0.5% and the 6.7% increase a year earlier. It was the worst June for retailers in three years.


Discount retailer stocks such as Costco Wholesale (COST) and Target (TGT) have performed well this year, but both lost share value Thursday after failing to meet June estimates. Costco was expected to grow same-store sales by 3.7% but managed only a 3% increase. Meanwhile, Target reported an increase of 2.1%, below estimates of 2.4%.

"There is a dichotomy" among retailers, Nancy Liu, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, told Dow Jones Newswires. "If you're middle class, you're not going to spend freely across stores, because you're concerned about money. This makes for a more competitive environment for retailers."

Kohl's (KSS) and The Buckle (BKE) also missed June estimates. It was the third consecutive month of falling sales for Kohl's.


Although many discount retailers struggled in June, higher-end names such as Nordstrom (JWN) and Saks (SKS) beat estimates. Nordstrom reported an increase of 8.1% in sales at stores open at least 12 months, while Saks posted a 6% increase. Shares of both companies jumped more than 2% in afternoon trading Thursday.

"The high-end consumer has fared particularly well throughout this recovery," Ken Perkins, the president of Retail Metrics, said in an interview with Los Angeles Times. "On the low end, a lot of middle-income consumers have traded down."

As the chart above shows, it has been a mixed year for retail stocks. TJX Companies (TJX) and Ross Stores (ROST) have led the pack with gains of more than 30% year to date. Meanwhile, Kohl's has lagged behind with negative gains. Costco and Target have both increased about 13% year to date.


One of the biggest standouts from the June numbers was Limited Brands (LTD), the parent of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. Same-stores sales surged 7% last month compared with expectations of only 2.4%. Limited posted an 11% same-store sales jump at Victoria's Secret.

"What's driving Victoria's Secret is two things," Dana Telsey, the CEO and chief research officer of Telsey Advisory Group, told CNBC. "No. 1 is the continuos flow of new product launches at competitive prices. No. 2 is the Pink category. The Pink category has expanded from beyond just intimate apparel to lounge wear, too, and it's younger and newer."

Limited shares have gained 15% this year.


Eric McWhinnie is an editor at Wall St. Cheat Sheet. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.


More from Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Jul 9, 2012 12:50PM


Stimulus will only increases inflation. Inflation reduces buying power in a fixed wage, high unemployment economy. Watch unemployment increase if the Fed dose Q3.

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

123 rated 1
262 rated 2
480 rated 3
651 rated 4
649 rated 5
629 rated 6
616 rated 7
496 rated 8
346 rated 9
111 rated 10

Top Picks

TAT&T Inc9



Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.