Nordstrom shares began to rise in summer and haven't slowed down. The second-quarter report in early August got the party started. Same-store sales were down 1.2%, which were better than expected. The better comps were mostly from the shift of the Anniversary Sale into the second quarter, rather than the third. Nordstrom's discount concept, The Rack, posted a 1.1% comp. Because of the better sales performance, management raised third-quarter guidance, and the shares took off.
Two weeks ago, the company reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of 85 cents per share, 32 cents better than expected. Revenue rose 7.2%, to $3.43 billion. The results exclude the writedown of the Trunk Club acquisition. (Yeah, Nordstrom overpaid for it, but management still seems committed to the concept of an online personal shopper.)
Same-stores sales jumped 2.4%. The results include one week of the Anniversary Sale, which helped boost the figure. Taken together, same-store sales for the second and third quarter were up just 0.4%. (It isn't as exciting when looked at that way.)
The Rack division -- which consists of Nordstrom Rack, nordstromrack.com and Hautelook -- saw net sales jump 10.1% and comparable sales increase 3.9%.
Retail gross margin increased 90 basis points, to 34.8%. Gross margins were driven by fewer markdowns. Operating margin increased 150 basis points, to 7.1%.
For the fourth quarter, analysts are looking for revenue of $4.37 billion, up 4.3%, and earnings of $1.18 per share. The company is expected to end the year with earnings of $2.96 per share and revenue of $14.8 billion, up 2.5%.
For fiscal 2017, analysts are looking for revenue of $15.54 billion, up 5%, and earnings of $3.15.
Nordstrom's average forward multiple is about 16 times earnings of $3.15, which means the stock is probably worth about $50.
Without the benefit of the Anniversary Sale, I'm afraid the stock will lose momentum as less-than-exciting same-store sales figures become more apparent.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no position in the stocks mentioned.