Macy's sales rise more than expected; shares jump

Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:27am EST
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By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - Macy's Inc (M.N: Quote) on Wednesday reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales and earnings, helped by more promotions, and the department store chain said business was improving as the holidays near.

Shares of Macy's rose 9 percent to $50.48 in morning trading on relief that the retailer was back on track after posting disappointing sales in August for the prior quarter.

Business picked up markedly in the third quarter ended November 2, especially in October. Macy's said comparable sales, which include those online and at stores open at least a year, rose 3.5 percent, while analysts were expecting an increase of 2.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Despite the strong results, Macy's did not raise its full-year forecast for comparable sales, which it expects to be up between 2.5 percent and 4 percent.

Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough attributed some of the sales increase to more-aggressive promotions and extended sales events, which reflect shoppers' continued caution. Those efforts hurt gross profit margin, which fell slightly to 39.2 percent of sales from 39.6 percent.

Nonetheless, Yarbrough said Macy's was ahead of many rivals in its ability to leverage its stores to fill online orders, and he praised the retailer's merchandise selection.

"They're in good shape," he said. "Unless something changes abruptly in consumer sentiment, they should have a great holiday season."

Macy's results echoed those of retailers like Gap Inc (GPS.N: Quote), Victoria's Secret parent L Brands Inc LTD.N and J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N: Quote). Las week, all three reported much stronger sales for October than for September and August.   Continued...

A sign is seen outside a Macy's retail store in San Francisco, California August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith