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Nordstrom’s (JWN) Robust Holiday Show Fails to Woo Investors


Nordstrom Inc. JWN has concluded a dull 2017 on a strong note, reporting modest improvement in sales and comparable store sales (comps) for the combined months of November and December, which primarily comprises the holiday season. This year’s holiday season has brought gifts for most retailers, remedying the jolts witnessed in 2017 and raising hopes for a spectacular 2018.

However, the solid holiday season feat and the resulting raising of guidance didn’t impress investors’ much. Consequently, Nordstrom’s shares fell 1.1% in the after-hours session on Jan 9. Looking back, the company has gained 11.5% in the last three months, underperforming the industry’s growth of 21.6%.

Coming to the numbers, Nordstrom recorded 2.5% increase in net sales for the nine weeks ended Dec 30, 2017, while comps for the period rose 1.2%. The solid holiday show was primarily driven by growth in Nordstrom’s full-line and Rack stores, compared with the year-to-date sales performance, as well as persistent strength in e-commerce at Nordstrom.com and Nordstromrack.com/HauteLook.

The strength of the company’s full-line and Rack was evident from sales growth of 0.7% and 8.2%, respectively, at these formats. Additionally, comps were up 1% for Nordstrom full-line and increased 2.9% for Nordstrom Rack. Results at Nordstrom full-line stores mainly include the United States and Canada full-line stores and Nordstrom.com as well as Trunk Club. Meanwhile, Nordstrom Rack comprises the Rack stores and Nordstromrack.com/HauteLook.

Driven by the robust holiday sales, Nordstrom raised its previously stated guidance for fiscal 2017. The company now expects sales growth of nearly 4.2%, including the 53rd week. Comps are likely to gain 0.5%. This compares with the company’s previous expectation of 4% sales growth and flat comps.

Additionally, the company anticipates earnings in the range of $2.90-$2.95 per share, marking an increase from the prior guidance range of $2.85-$2.95 per share. The revised guidance assumes strong sales growth, persistent stability in merchandise margins and higher supply chain, technology, and occupancy costs related to the company’s growth initiatives.

Currently, this fashion specialty retailer carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The holiday season this year was overwhelming for retailers backed by an increase in consumer spending. This has lifted the overall outlook for the Retail-Wholesale sector, which is currently placed at top 19% (3 of 16) of the Zacks Classified sectors. According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, sales (excluding automobiles) during Nov 1 to Dec 24, 2017 jumped 4.9% compared with 3.7% rise in the prior-year period. This marked the biggest year-over-year increase in holiday spending since 2011. Further, this data has also beat the National Retail Federation’s (“NRF”) projection of 3.6-4% rise in November and December sales (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) and eMarketer’s forecast of 3.1% jump in holiday sales.

Some other gainers during the period were American Eagle Outfitters Inc. AEO, J. C. Penney Company, Inc. JCP and Macy’s Inc. M, which reported comps growth of 8%, 3.4% and 1.1%, respectively.

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