Why Macy's (M) Is Moving Higher on Tuesday

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Macy's (M) is gaining on Tuesday after fourth-quarter earnings came in better than expected.

By early afternoon, shares had added 4.8% to $55.64.

In the three months to Feb. 1, the retailer reported adjusted net income of $2.31 a share, 12.7% higher than a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had anticipated earnings of $2.17 a share.

Gross margins remained level for the quarter at 40.6% of sales, indicating Macy's didn't engage in deeper-than-normal discounts which hurt many retailers over the recent holiday season.

Even so, sales came in under consensus. Revenue of $9.2 billion in the 13-week quarter was 1.6% lower than $9.35 billion in the 14-week quarter a year ago. Analysts had expected total sales of $9.27 billion.

Comparable sales for the fourth quarter grew 1.4%, weighed down by worse-than-predicted January sales. At any one time in January, at least 244 Macy's and Bloomindale's stores were closed due to bad weather.

"While we had expected a sales decline in January because of the calendar shift, the month was down further than we had expected and we are very disappointed with sales performance in January. In part, poor January sales were due to the unusually harsh winter weather across much of the country," said CEO Terry Lundgren in a statement. "The business remained sluggish until Valentine's Day."

Lundgren expects shopping patterns to normalize once warmer spring weather arrives, though the company is "watching business trends closely."

Despite a slow start to its first quarter, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based business reiterated annual sales and earnings guidance for fiscal 2015. Management expects per-share earnings between $4.40 and $4.50 and comparable sales growth of 2.5% to 3%.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates MACY'S INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate MACY'S INC (M) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated."

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