NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Retailers are scheduled to report earnings on Thursday. Here's what to look for.
stock has been decimated heading into fourth-quarter results, as investors worry about both near-term and long-term concerns.
But Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser believes the fears regarding structural issues are overblown.
"The competitive landscape is changing, but Best Buy is adjusting to these changes via investments online, new strategies to support connectivity and expansion in growth categories such as wireless
and tablets," he wrote in a note.
Strasser maintained his buy rating on the stock, saying Best Buy remains a market-share leader.
Best Buy made a strategic decision by cutting its international growth to focus on expanding its mobile division in the U.S.
"This efficient capital allocation will result in accelerating share repurchases, and increased investment in e-commerce
and growth sectors," Strasser wrote. "These strategies will ultimately result in higher return on investment capital, higher multiples and higher stock price as the economy recovers."
Still, Best Buy is on track to report the slowest growth in annual revenue since 1990. Analysts are calling for 2011 sales of $50.3 billion, a 1% increase from the prior year, while profit is expected to grow just 4% to $1.37 billion. In 2010, earnings jumped 31%.
For the fourth quarter, Wall Street is predicting a profit of $1.85 a share on revenue of $16.29 billion.
Jefferies lowered its price target on the stock to $35, saying Best Buy's sales will likely decline in the first quarter.
is coming off a record third quarter that received a boost from new videogame releases.
The strong results prompted the company to lifts its full-year outlook.
For the fourth quarter, analysts are projecting a profit of $1.56 a share on revenue of $3.71 billion.
In January, GameStop announced that its holiday sales were in line with expectations, reporting $3.02 billion for the November to December period and a 3.4% jump in same-store sales.
But the mix was less favorable, with hardware sales, which have lower margins, coming in stronger than expected while used videogames fell below guidance.
Holiday sales typically represent about 80% of total sales for the fourth quarter and are generally a good proxy for fourth-quarter sales.
Since this means most of the mystery is already out for GameStop's quarter, the biggest focus will be on 2011 guidance.
GameStop is also hosting its first ever investor day on April 1.
"We think this event could be a catalyst to the stock, particularly if the company is successful in effectively communicating its digital strategy to the Street," Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia wrote in a note.
So far this year, shares of GameStop have fallen 8.1%.
( WTSLA) posted a surprise gain in comparable sales last month, seeing strength at both namesake stores and its Arden B division.
In February, the fast-fashion retailer reported a 7% jump in same-store sales, better than the 1% decline analysts predicted.
But in Wet Seal fashion, the company once again took "two steps forward, one back," Brean Murray analyst Eric Beder noted.
The teen retailer said it will open 50% fewer stores in 2011 than it previously planned.
"While we would have liked to see management remain even more aggressive in its growth plans, we understand the new regime's desire to take a more measured approach as it takes over," Beder wrote.
In January, Susan McGalla took the reigns as CEO, replacing Ed Thomas, who was heading the company on an interim basis.
For the fourth quarter, Wall Street is expecting a profit of 5 cents a share on revenue of $163.4 million.
is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results after the markets close on Thursday.
Given recent positive reports from several competitors, most notably
, trends are expected to have remained strong during the quarter with some softness in January due to the weather.
The release of several new styles from both
, should have boosted business in February, notes Phoenix Partners analyst Robert Samuel.
Following Nike's disappointing results last week, predominantly because of higher input costs, Samuel said he expects Finish Line management to discuss the impact of product cost inflation. The use of cash also likely will be a hot button topic on the company's conference call.
Samuel doesn't expect Finish Line to provide annual guidance.
In anticipation of a less-than-stellar fourth quarter,
stock plunged 6.7% on Tuesday and continued to trade lower Wednesday morning.
Talbots has struggled with its merchandise assortment, which has lacked excitement.
Wall Street is expecting a loss of 17 cents a share on revenue of $294.7 million for the fourth quarter.
"We remain concerned about the outlook for Talbots given their unappealing merchandise, the recent senior management departures and the difficulties apparent sector wide in the women's space," Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe wrote in a note.
Talbots results will follow other lackluster reports out of rivals like
It's clear a turnaround at Talbots will take time and the path to recovery will be volatile. Talbots is facing difficult sales and gross margin comparisons and cost inflation could also eat into the bottom line.
Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Tennant advises waiting on the sidelines for more clarity regarding Talbots turnaround and evidence of the branding resonating with the 40-something shopper and sustainability in comparable sales.
backed its fourth-quarter guidance last week, defending its strength after a selloff in the stock.
Shares of Fred's ended last week down 2% to $12.39, but rallied early this week. Shares of Fred's were slipping almost 2% Wednesday.
The discounter said its business and sales trends remain consistent with January and February same-store sales results. It still expects to earn between 19 cents and 22 cents a share for the quarter and 73 cents to 76 cents a share for the full year.
Analysts are calling for a profit of 21 cents a share for the quarter and 74 cents for the year.
Fred's also said that because of the decline in its share price it plans to resume repurchases under its previously announced buyback plan.
--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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