Retail Stocks Mixed Despite Better-than-Expected April Sales (Update 1)

New information has been added to the story.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Retail stocks were mixed on Monday, despite a positive report from the government on April retail sales.

U.S. food and retail sales rose 0.1% in April compared to March, to $419 billion, according to the latest Commerce Department figures released on Monday. Economists were expecting sales for the retail sector to fall 0.3% for the month of March, according to Thomson Reuters.

Retail sales were 3.7% above April 2012 figures, the data said. Excluding autos, retail sales fell 0.1% from the month before, in line with analysts' expectations.

Total sales for the period of February through April 2013 were up 3.7% from the same period a year ago. The Commerce Department revised March 2013 retail sales slightly lower to -0.5% from -0.4%.

Retail trade sales were virtually unchanged from March, yet 3.6% above last year. Sales at non-store retailers rose 15.4% from April 2012, while auto and other motor vehicle dealers rose 8.8% from the year-earlier period.

Michael Kors ( KORS) and Nordstrom ( JWN) were gaining on the April retail report. JC Penney ( JCP) was gaining on research suggesting that promotions and discounts were boosting sales, according to Bloomberg. The stock was up 3% to $18.25 at last check.

Shares of specialty retailers Ann Inc. ( ANN) and Gap ( GPS) were lower. Stocks of large department stores Kohl's ( KSS), Macy's ( M) and Sears ( SHLD) were also falling.

The positive monthly sales data may not be enough to translate into strong growth in the second quarter.

"Today's retail sales data is encouraging news," said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, in a statement. "However positive, retail sales and consumer spending in April may not necessarily translate into a stronger or healthier second quarter. NRF continues to forecast moderate sales growth for the year."

First-quarter retail earnings get started this week with Macys, JC Penney, Kohl's and Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT) reporting later in the week. Retailers are expected to post sluggish quarters from an extended cold snap, at least in the Northeast.

Two positive findings in the April retail sales report were positive sales numbers in the building material and garden equipment and supply stores, which rose 1.5% from the prior month and 4.1% year-over-year.

Also e-commerce retail sales rose 1.4% for the month and 15.4% from the year-earlier period, the report said.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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