Kohl's Beats Department Stores (Update)

While Kohl's posts a 10% decline in first-quarter earnings, it actually raised its full-year guidance and saw positive sales numbers.
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Updated from 8:59 a.m. EDT.

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

could be the shining star in an otherwise moribund department store sector.

While the company posted a 10% decline in first-quarter earnings, it actually raised full-year guidance and saw positive sales numbers.

This is more than can be said for rival

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

, who yesterday reported a loss in its first quarter and saw sales drop to a four-year low.

Department stores, of course, were losing steam well before the recession, as shoppers having been opting for specialty stores with more personalized customer service and fashion-forward merchandise.

In April, total year-to-date department-store sales fell to $54.9 billion, the lowest year-to-date level since 1995, according to a report released by Customer Growth Partners on Wednesday.

At Kohl's, profit fell to $137 million, or 45 cents a share, during the quarter, only marginally beating analysts' target of 44 cents. This compares with earnings of $153 million, or 49 cents, last year.

Sales rose slightly to $3.64 billion, as Kohl's typically stocks lower-priced items and promotes heavy discounts to lure shoppers.

The company raised its full-year guidance to $2.19 to $2.42 a share, up from its prior outlook of $2 to $2.30 a share. For the second quarter, the company expects to earn 56 cents to 64 cents a share.

"The company's liquid inventory position should allow Kohl's to chase business and flow fresh receipts as needed throughout the second quarter, likely benefiting second quarter results," Richard Jaffe, analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, wrote in a note on Thursday. "We believe that given the difficult retail environment, Kohl's is well-positioned with a defensive posture, lean inventory, and compelling branded assortments heading into the summer."

Competitor

JC Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

is set to report earnings on Friday.

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