Kohl's Corp. (KSS) on Thursday, Nov. 9, reported revenue and same-store sales growth, but earnings per share disappointed.
During the company's fiscal quarter, ending Oct. 28, Kohl's generated earnings of 70 cents per share, down 12.5% from the same quarter last year. Revenue of $4.33 billion was up 0.1% year over year, and same-store sales were also up 0.1%, compared to a 1.7% decline in the same quarter in 2016. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Kohl's to report earnings of 72 cents per share on sales of $4.3 billion.
Kohl's is betting on adding new customers to its stores through a partnership with retail boogeyman Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) .
On Oct. 18, Kohl's launched a joint venture with Amazon, previously announced in September, which adds new Amazon Smart Home Experience Amazon-focused spaces in ten Kohl's stores in Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as offering Amazon returns in 82 Kohl's stores.
Despite, in his view, a grim long-term prognosis, "Street estimates are likely to move higher (and not lower) in the coming quarters and with the company dancing with Amazon to some degree, we think shares have more room to grind higher in the near-term," wrote Gordon Haskett Research Advisors LLC analyst Chuck Grom.
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At an Oct. 26 visit to Kohl's headquarters in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., Grom said the company expressed "a greater willingness to change as well as an open-minded approach towards adopting new strategies - ala the company's recent venture with Amazon," noting that CEO Kevin Mansell told them "'all things are on the table' when speaking to future new initiatives across all aspects of its operating model."
In addition to increasing online sales and driving traffic through the Amazon partnerships, Grom wrote, Kohl's is focused on increasing store visits, including the highly touted and successful addition of Under Armour Inc. (UAA) products to its stores, expanding its active-wear offerings with other brands including Adidas AG (ADDYY) and Nike Inc. (NKE) , luring customers who favored now-closed outposts of rivals like J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP) and a new loyalty program to be rolled out next year.
"We believe there was increased optimism for comp improvements into the print" thanks to management's optimism and "the number of traffic driving initiatives including emphasized athletic category and improved private label penetration," wrote RBC Capital Markets LLC analyst Brian Tunick. "However, mid quarter comps slowed with hurricane impact and unseasonable weather (we estimate comped down LSD%) before bouncing back up second half of October. Generally, although it is encouraging to hear that comps and traffic improved into Q3, we remain skeptical of a material improvement in Q4 comps given the still very challenging environment."
Not immune to declining brick-and-mortar shopping across the retail sector, Kohl's plans to shrink stores rather than closing them like many of its rivals. Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) announced Nov. 2 that it will shutter 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores. Sears said Wednesday that same-store sales fell 13.6% at the two chains during the quarter ending Oct. 28, an acceleration from the 12.4% decline in the prior quarter.
Kohl's also reported this quarter, on Sept. 26, that Mansell, its CEO of nearly a decade, will retire in May. He'll be replaced by Chief Merchandising and Customer Officer Michelle Gass, who joined Kohl's in 203 after stints at Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) and Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) .
Kohl's shares fell 5.6% to $38.50 in premarket trading Thursday.
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