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Kohl's Blasts Earnings Forecasts, Lifts 2021 Guidance, Amid Spending Boom

Kohl's sees net sales growing by a 'mid-to-high teens' percentage rate, with adjusted earnings in the region of $3.80 to $4.20 per share, following stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings.

Kohl's Corp  (KSS)  posted much stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Thursday, and boosted its full-year profit outlook, as the retailer's turnaround plans were supported by government stimulus and a post-pandemic surge in consumer spending. 

Kohl's said adjusted earnings for the three months ending on May 1 came in at $1.05 per share, up from a $3.20 per share loss for the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 4 cents per share. Group revenues, Kohl's said, rose 60% to $3.887 billion, topping analysts' estimates of a $3.48 billion tally.

Looking into the 2021 financial year, Kohl's said it sees net sales growing by a 'mid-to-high teens' percentage rate, with adjusted earnings in the region of $3.80 to $4.20 per share. 

“We are very pleased with our strong start to 2021 with both sales and earnings materially exceeding expectations. Along with a favorable consumer spending backdrop, we continue to see our key strategic initiatives gain traction and resonate with customers," said CEO Michelle Gass. "

"We are positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities during the balance of 2021 and remain firmly on track to achieving our 2023 strategic goals," she added. "Based on our first quarter results, we are raising our full year 2021 guidance.” 

Kohl's shares were marked 7.9% lower in early trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $55.50 each, a move that would trim the stock's year-to-date gain to around 35.2%.

March retail sales roared past Wall Street forecasts, rising 9.8% from last year to $619.1 billion thanks in part to the impact of $1,400 stimulus payments to most domestic households from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.

April retail sales, however, stalled amid a sharp uptick in consumer price inflation -- the fastest since 2009, in fact -- and the fading stimulus impact. 

Earlier this week, Kohl's smaller rival, Macy's Inc.  (M) , boosted its full-year sales and earnings forecasts following a surprise first quarter profit powered in part by an improving job market and billions in government stimulus from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Act.

Macy's now sees full-year revenues in the region of $21.7 to $22.2 billion and adjusted earnings of between $1.71 and $2.12 per share.