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Kohl’s, Macy’s raise earnings outlook


New York City Key department stores retailers fared better than expected in January, and both Kohl’s Corp. and Macy’s raised their earnings outlook.

Kohl’s Corp. reported a 6.5% rise in same-store sales in January, ahead of the 2.8% rise expected by analysts. Total sales for the four-week month ended Jan. 30 increased 10.7%

Total sales for the year increased 4.8% from the prior year. On a comparable-store basis, sales for the year increased 0.4%.

From a regional perspective, the Southwest region led the company, as it has throughout most of 2009. From a line-of-business perspective, footwear and womens reported the strongest comparable-store sales increases.

Kohl’s said that as a result of its January sales performance and strong inventory and expense management, it was raising its fourth-quarter earnings outlook.

Macy's raised its earnings outlook Thursday after posting improved sales in January. The chain said same-store sales rose 3.4% in January, helped by its strategy of localizing store management. The improvement was better than Wall Street expected. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters projected flat sales.

Macy's net sales rose 3.4% to about $1.26 billion. Full-year sales at stores open more than a year fell 5.3%, while net sales fell 5.6% to $23.49 billion.

“Our company’s sales and earnings results for the month and quarter reinforce the confidence we have in the strategic direction of our business. It’s noteworthy that all 10 of Macy’s top-performing geographic markets in 2009 were original My Macy’s pilot districts, indicating ongoing momentum from the process of tailoring local assortments and shopping experiences as this strategy is rolling out nationally,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s. "Now that we have implemented fundamental changes to Macy’s operating and organization structure in 2009, we are moving into 2010 firmly focused on the execution of our strategies."

J.C. Penney Co. said same-store sales fell 4.6% in January, topping its own outlook and narrowly beating analysts' forecasts. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters anticipated a slightly larger decline of 4.9%.

The department store operator said its women's apparel and fine jewelry categories were top performers, with softer sales in children's. Online sales had a high single-digit increase.

Total company sales for the period ended Jan. 30 slipped 4.4% to $940 million. J.C. Penney said its results reflect its strategy to have less clearance inventory available during the month.

Looking across the country, J.C. Penney said the central region recorded the strongest results, while the Northwest had the weakest sales.

For the quarter, sales at stores open at least a year dropped 4.5%, with total sales down 3.6% to $5.55 billion. Full-year sales at stores open at least a year declined 6.3%, while total sales slipped 5% to $17.56 billion.

Upscale department store chains also fared well in January, with Nordstrom registering a 14.0% increase in same-store sales. Preliminary total retail sales of $543 million for January 2010 increased 15.8%, compared with total retail sales of $468 million for the same period in fiscal 2008.

At Saks, same-store sales rose 7%, beating analysts’ estimates of a 2.8% rise. Saks said total sales for the month ended Jan. 31 rose 8% to $159 million.

For January, the strongest categories at Saks Fifth Avenue stores were women’s designer and “gold range” apparel, women’s shoes, handbags, fashion jewelry, men’s apparel, and men’s shoes. Saks Direct performed well for the month.

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