June Same-Store Sales Top Street Estimates (Update 1)

This story has been updated from 10:42 am ET with Gap's same-store sales numbers and closing stock prices.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Retailers that still report monthly same-store sales posted gains in June that exceeded Wall Street expectations.

Only 11 retailers still report the once famous monthly metrics, with more retailers - the latest was Target ( TGT) - preferring quarterly metrics.

Excluding the drug stores, Walgreens ( WAG) and Rite Aid ( RAD), same-store sales exceeded estimates, registering 5.9% growth, up from the 4.8% estimate and 2.6% from a year earlier, Thomson Reuters said.

Analysts predicted overall June sales to rise 3.6%. Including Gap, the overall June tally also came in at 4.8%, above expectations and significantly better than the 1.8% decline in the year-earlier period.

"Some retailers used promotional activity during June to attract consumers, such as the Victoria's Secret semi-annual sale. The Gap was less promotional, and its summer dresses were a big hit with consumers trying to stay cool in the summer heat," a report by Thomson Reuters said.

That said, "shopping mall traffic was stagnant in June, with consumers delaying shopping trips until the back to school shopping season begins later in the summer," the report said.

Comparable store sales at Gap ( GPS) had a strong showing in June. The company reported after the bell on Thursday that sales comps rose 7% from the prior year across its three largest brands - flagship Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.

Analysts had predicted same store sales to rise 4.7% for the company.

Store sales growth was fueled particularly by a 13% jump in Old Navy global comp sales, offset by a 1% decline in Banana Republic comp sales, the company said.

Gap's net sales rose a healthy 8% to $1.53 billion for the five-week period ending July 6 over last year.

Costco ( COST), the largest of retailers to still report monthly sales, said U.S. and overall same-store sales in June each rose 6%, surpassing analysts' estimates of 5.2%. Costco said that changes in gasoline prices had a slight positive impact, while foreign exchange rates had a negative impact on comparable sales in the month.

Costco's net sales of $9.92 billion for the month of June rose 8% over the same period last year. (Retailers such as Costco generally count the five weeks ending July 7 as its June period.)

Department store Stein Mart ( SMRT) said June comparable sales rose 6.5%, with linens, ladies' casual sportswear and ladies' boutique apparel posting the strongest sales last month, while men's sportswear, ladies' accessories and ladies' special sizes were not as strong.

Total sales rose 2.6% to $109 million. The company had 262 stores as of the end of June.

Geographically, June sales were strongest in the Southeast, Texas, Florida and the Gulf States, while the Midwest, Northeast and California performed lower than the overall chain.

"Our June comparable store sales increase of 6.5% continues our strong sales trend," CEO Jay Stein said in a statement. "I am pleased with our momentum and the great merchandise we have in our stores."

Discount retailer Fred's ( FRED) said comparable store sales for the month rose 4.5% versus a decline of 4% in the same period last year. Total monthly sales rose 3% to $187.7 million.

"We are pleased to report a significant improvement in comparable store sales for June, which exceeded our expectations and reflected increased customer traffic and higher transaction amounts, coupled with the benefit of the calendar shift early in the month," CEO Bruce A. Efird said in a statement. "Our general merchandise initiatives in June focused on driving customer traffic through promotions of consumables."

Efird also said that sales improved as a result of better weather which favorably affected sales within lawn and garden, summer toys and seasonal departments, "which are now expected to be on plan for this quarter" combined with positive sales in its pharmacy department for the first time in 10 months.

"Our reconfiguration plan initiatives continue to gain traction, and, based on the results of the first two months of the quarter, we remain confident that our second quarter earnings will be in the range previously forecasted," Efird said.

Other retailers didn't fare as well.

L Brands ( LTD), owner of Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works, reported flat June comp sales as compared to June 2012. L Brands said net sales of $1.10 billion for the five weeks ending July 6 rose 2.2% compared to the year-earlier period.

Cato Corp ( CATO) reported sales of $86.1 million for June, up 3% from sales in the June 2012 period. Same-store sales for the five-week period rose 1%, while year-to-date same-store sales decreased 3%.

"While June same-store sales were above trend, higher markdowns will affect our results for the quarter," Chairman and CEO John Cato said in a statement.

The company still expects second-quarter earnings per diluted share within its original guidance of 42 cents to 48 cents, a sharp decline from the 59 cents a share it posted in the 2012 quarter.

"Year-to-date same-store sales results have been volatile, driven in part by various economic uncertainties as well as unseasonable weather," Cato said. "We believe this uncertainty will continue and we remain cautious as we look toward the second half of the year. We remain comfortable with our original guidance."

Cato operates 1,306 stores in 31 states.

Teen fashion retailers had mixed results.

Earlier in the week, American Apparel ( APP) said comparable sales rose 7% in June compared to last year, faring better than other retailers, but down slightly from the 10% jump it saw in May. The Los Angeles teen retailer said that online sales fueled its increase, up 22% last month. Store sales rose 5% in the month.

American Apparel said sales for the June 30th-ending quarter rose 9% to $162.2 million.

"June represents our 25th consecutive month of positive comparable store sales growth," said Chairman and CEO Dov Charney. "Sales growth was across a broad range of product categories and demonstrates the strength of our summer product offering. Thus far, July sales are solidly positive in our retail and online channels, and we expect a meaningful increase in our wholesale net sales this month when compared to the prior year."

The Buckle ( BKE) said Thursday that comparable store sales rose 3.4% in June. Net sales for the Kearney, Neb.-based company rose 3.9% to $82.5 million in June compared to the prior year's period.

Action sports apparel and accessories retailer, Zumiez ( ZUMZ) said on Wednesday that same-store sales inched just 1% higher last month versus 8.2% in the year-earlier period.

With 522 stores, the company said net sales for June jumped 14.5% to $58.8 million.

Retail stocks were generally in positive territory on Thursday. Winners included Stein Mart up 9% to $15, a level not seen since 2007. Shares of L Brands rose 3.4% to $52.33 and Francesca's ( FRAN) stock rose p 2.7% to $29.11.

Shares of Under Armour ( UA) were down 2.4% to $60.35. Zumiez shares also sunk 1.2% to $30.68.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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