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WWD Stock Index Inches Up

NEW YORK — The <B>WWD Stock Index</B> advanced for the first time in a month, gaining 0.3 percent to 1,083.65 from 1,080.33 a week ago.<BR><BR>Among the broader indices, the <B>S&P 500</B> shook off record-high oil prices to rally 1.9...

NEW YORK — The WWD Stock Index advanced for the first time in a month, gaining 0.3 percent to 1,083.65 from 1,080.33 a week ago.

Among the broader indices, the S&P 500 shook off record-high oil prices to rally 1.9 percent to 1,131.5 from 1,110.11 last week.

The WWD Index’s gain came from investors trading up a broad base of component companies, offsetting declines from some of the bigger index members.

It was a week of bad news for Tommy Hilfiger Corp. Inc., and Wall Street responded by selling down the company’s shares 25.4 percent to $9.82 from $13.17 a week ago. Shareholders have filed at least five federal lawsuits against the company after it said its Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A. subsidiary is the target of a criminal investigation by U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan. Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A. has received a grand jury subpoena for documents going back to 1990 relating to the commission rate it paid to a non-U.S. subsidiary.

Gap Inc.’s shares fell 1.6 percent to $19.04 from $19.35 last week now that the easy part of the retailer’s recovery seems to have passed and analysts are questioning how strong its near-term results will be. Ever-increasing competition, weak traffic levels, difficult upcoming sales comparisons and a new concept catering to women over 35 that likely won’t be accretive to earnings for a few years are causes for concern. Warning signs of a deceleration in sales appeared when the company reported a 2 percent drop in aggregate June same-store sales, its first decrease in 25 months.

Federated Department Stores Inc. shares retreated 1.5 percent to $45.83 from $46.55 a week ago after the company projected a 2.1 percent decline in same-store sales for September because of the hurricanes that have battered Florida. Federated estimated $30 million in lost sales because of the storms. The state has 57 Burdine’s-Macy’s and five Bloomingdale’s — a significant chunk of Federated’s 450-store operation. The company estimated third-quarter earnings will be down 4 to 6 percent. Analysts said mainstream department stores, especially Federated and J.C. Penney Co. Inc., with 55 of its 1,021 stores in Florida, would probably suffer the worst immediate losses. Penny’s shares dropped 4.8 percent to $35.38 from $37.18 last week.

This story first appeared in the October 4, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

For insight into the challenges faced by retailers and wholesalers in the global marketplace, business communications firm Financial Dynamics will host a panel discussion called “Changing With the Landscape: Surviving and Thriving in a New Retail World” on Oct. 13 at the New York Palace Hotel. The guest panelists will be Cynthia Cohen, founder of Strategic Mindshare; Jim Famalette, chief executive officer of Gottschalks Inc.; Financo Inc. chairman Gilbert Harrison, and Richard Olicker, president of Steven Madden Ltd.

— Dan Burrows

WWD Composite Stock Index vs. S&P 500