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WWD Stock Index Stalls

NEW YORK — The <B>WWD Stock Index</B> failed to sustain its rally into a third consecutive week, stalling at 1,073.77, or just 0.04 percent below last week’s close of 1,074.17.<BR><BR>In the broader market, the S&P 500 advanced 0.9...

NEW YORK — The WWD Stock Index failed to sustain its rally into a third consecutive week, stalling at 1,073.77, or just 0.04 percent below last week’s close of 1,074.17.

In the broader market, the S&P 500 advanced 0.9 percent to 1,107.77 from 1,098.35.

Lowered guidance from a couple of retail and wholesale heavyweights cancelled out strong share performance by other members of the WWD Index, while the S&P 500 responded to an easing of oil prices to around $43 a barrel from almost $50 a week ago.

But in the retail sector, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s stock weighed down the WWD Index with a 2 percent drop to $53.56 from $54.65 a week ago after the retailer lowered its August same-store sales forecast. The world’s largest company said comps will now likely be flat to 2 percent instead of the previous outlook of a 2 to 4 percent gain.

Wal-Mart partly blamed the impact of Hurricane Charley, which hit the Southeast states in mid-August, causing the company to temporarily close 75 area stores.

Some analysts, however, said the cooler comps may reflect moderating consumer spending habits going into the second half of the year, and a shift in back-to-school spending, with hip, electronic gadgets threatening to take market share from apparel.

As for the wholesale side, giant Kellwood Co. said second-quarter profits shot up 52.9 percent to $10.2 million on a 10.1 percent sales increase, but investors were looking to the future. The company’s shares dropped 5.8 percent for the week to $36.10 from $43.72 after Kellwood guided third-quarter earnings and sales well below Wall Street’s forecast. Kellwood said lukewarm demand for apparel and delays in new marketing programs were partly to blame.

Meanwhile, Nordstrom Inc.’s stock was pulling in the other direction, improving 2 percent to $37.55 from $36.82 a week ago. The company’s announcement last week of a $300 million share repurchase program appeared to have the intended effect of renewing Wall Street’s faith in the company’s financial position.

Tugging along with Nordstrom was Barneys New York Inc., which looks to be in an enviable position. The company, which is on the sales block, saw its shares add 2.5 percent to $20.60 from $20.10 a week ago after the company said it swung back to second-quarter profitability.

This story first appeared in the August 30, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Chico’s FAS Inc. also had a strong second quarter. Indeed, profits and sales grew by double digits, but Wall Street’s darling found that investors are fickle: They traded down the company’s shares 2.8 percent to $42.51 from $43.72 last week after Chico’s beat the consensus estimate by only a penny.

— Dan Burrows

WWD Composite Stock Index vs. S&P 500