Macy's profit, sales rise even as some shoppers pull back

Wed May 15, 2013 1:06pm EDT
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By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - Macy's Inc (M.N: Quote) reported higher first-quarter profit and sales on Wednesday as it won market share from rival department stores.

Its shares were up 2.8 percent to $48.72 in early-afternoon trading, hitting a record high.

The retailer, which operates the Macy's and high-end Bloomingdale's chains, said comparable sales rose 3.8 percent in the quarter, a slightly below Wall Street expectations. Overall sales were in line with expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, up 4 percent to $6.39 billion.

Macy's has benefited from large investments in technology in recent years, which have allowed it to use hundreds of its stores to deliver orders placed online, fueling its e-commerce and giving it an edge over many department store rivals.

It has also gotten a bump from a sharp sales decline at rival J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N: Quote) and a middling performance at Kohl's Corp (KSS.N: Quote).

"I do think these guys (Macy's) continue to take share from the J.C. Penneys of this world and the Kohl's of the world," Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough told Reuters.

Many U.S. shoppers, especially those with lower incomes, proved to be cautious earlier this year amid concerns about sharp cuts in government spending and a wobbly job market.

"We are seeing some weakness among our more budget-conscious, what we call deal-hunting customers," Macy's Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet told analysts on a conference call.   Continued...

Customers stand outside Macy's store in New York, April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid