Updated from 10:37 a.m. EDTRetailers reported April results that were on balance fairly weak Thursday, as shoppers tentatively returned to stores and malls in the wake of the Iraq war. Sears ( S) said April same-store sales tumbled 8.5%, while total sales dropped 8% to $1.99 billion. The company reported particular weakness in its hardline products and at its specialty stores. Kohl's ( KSS) said same-store sales fell 4.1%, while overall sales rose 5.8% to $718 million. The company said apparel sales perked up when it got warmer. Target ( TGT) said April same-store sales rose 3.9%, although it reported weakness at its Mervyn's and Marshall Field's divisions. Overall sales rose 11.3% to $3.191 billion. Gap ( GPS) once again bucked the trend, saying April comps shot up 20% and total sales rose 22% to $1.2 billion. The company's Gap U.S. division saw a 23% rise in same-store sales, while international had a 20% jump, Banana Republic an 11% gain and Old Navy a 20% rise. Gap also said first-quarter sales rose 16% to $3.4 billion. First-quarter comparable-store sales increased 12%. The company now expects to report first-quarter earnings of 19 cents to 22 cents a share when it releases its results on May 22. Analysts polled by First Call are expecting a profit of only 11 cents. BJ's Wholesale ( BJ) said April comps rose 4.8% and adjusted its first-quarter earnings estimate to 15 cents to 17 cents a share, before an accounting charge. The prior estimate was 14 cents to 18 cents a share. Pier 1 ( PIR) raised its first-quarter earnings guidance despite a decline in April same-store sales. The furniture seller expects to earn 19 cents to 23 cents a share in the period, saying business has picked up following the conclusion of the war. In April, the company said, same-store sales fell 2.6%.
J.C. Penney ( JCP) said comparable department store sales decreased 6.9% for the four weeks ended April 26. Total sales at the company's Eckerd drugstore chain rose 2.4%. Same-store drugstore sales increased 0.4%. Catalog sales fell 7.4%. Total company sales for the month fell 3.3% to $2.38 billion. Federated Department Stores ( FD) said April same-store sales fell 1.4%. Total sales for the month dropped 1.7% to $1.076 billion. For the first fiscal quarter, same-store sales were down 5%, and total sales slid 4.6% to $3.292 billion. Federated expects same-store sales in May to fall 1% to 3%. Federated reaffirmed its first-quarter earnings guidance of 14 cents to 19 cents a share. The company reports earnings on May 14. The owner of Bloomingdale's, Macy's and other chains also said it was discontinuing its weekly sales updates. May Department Stores ( MAY) reported that same-store sales fell 5.6% last month. Preliminary total sales decreased 3.8% to $967.4 million. Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2003 dropped 7.2% to $2.87 billion. As a result of the weak first-quarter sales, May said earnings, before income tax credits related to the resolution of various federal and state tax issues, will be lower than the current First Call consensus estimate. The company will report first-quarter earnings on May 13, and analysts are looking for a profit of 20 cents a share. Dillard's ( DDS) said April same-store sales fell 2%. Total sales also slipped 2%, to $536.5 million. The department store owner said sales for the first fiscal quarter ended May 3 slid 5% to $1.81 billion. Same-store sales for the quarter also declined 5%. Wal-Mart ( WMT) said same-store sales were weaker than expected in April and would stay that way in May, but said its first-quarter earnings would come in above estimates. The world's largest retailer said comparable-store sales rose 4.6% in April and predicted May comps would rise just 1% to 3%. Nevertheless, the company expects first-quarter earnings to be at the high end of its previous earnings forecast of 40 cents to 42 cents a share. Analysts had been predicting earnings of 37 cents a share. Overall sales for April were up 12.2%.
Pacific Sunwear ( PSUN) reported that total sales for April climbed 26.1% to $60.4 million. Same-store sales increased 16.9%. Total sales for the first quarter rose 22.6% to $198.3 million, and same-store sales increased 13.1%. The clothing retailer will announce first-quarter earnings results May 12. Aeropostale ( ARO), a casual apparel seller, said same-store sales climbed 8% in April. Total sales for the four weeks ended May 3 increased 40% to $38.5 million. First-quarter comps rose 1.8%, and total sales jumped 31.8% to $112.2 million. The company also said it expects first-quarter earnings to come in ahead of its previous guidance and analysts' consensus estimate. AnnTaylor ( ANN) reported that comparable sales for April fell 3.2%. Total sales rose 6.1% to $132.5 million. For the first quarter, total sales increased 1.9% to $352 million, and same-store sales dropped 6.5%. The women's clothing seller now expects first-quarter earnings of 39 cents, the low end of the company's guidance of 39 cents to 41 cents. Analysts expect a profit of 40 cents, according to First Call. Limited ( LTD) said same-store sales increased 3% for the four weeks ended May 3. Net sales totaled $580.6 million, up from $549.7 million last year. The company said same-store sales fell 1% for the first quarter, while total sales rose 2% to $1.842 billion. Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) posted a 3% decline in April same-store sales. Total sales for the month rose 14% to $102.7 million. For the year-to-date, the company reported a same-store sales drop of 6%, but a total sales increase of 11% to $346.7 million. Nordstrom ( JWN) said same-store sales slipped 0.3% last month. Total sales rose 5.2% to $439.7 million. Preliminary first-quarter sales rose 3.5% to $1.33 billion, but same-store sales fell 1.4%. Nordstrom now expects first-quarter earnings of 12 cents to 15 cents a share, mainly because of lower-than-expected gross margins and higher-than-expected selling, general and administrative expenses. On average, analysts polled by First Call expect earnings of 19 cents.