By  on May 6, 2011

TALE OF THE TOP LINE: Thomson Reuters put the overall increase in April comparable-store sales at 8.9 percent, better than either its final estimate of 8.2 percent or last April’s 1.7 percent result. During a month helped by a late Easter, just as March was penalized by holiday timing, a dramatically smaller sample of teen retailers managed the best sectoral increase, 12.6 percent, followed closely by the 12.1 percent rise among discounters. In the Thomson sample, 60.9 percent of companies beat estimates while, for the first time in memory, none of the companies tracked by WWD experienced a decrease.

AMONG THE MISSING: Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Aéropostale Inc., two of the teen retailers that, along with American Eagle Outfitters Inc., discontinued the reporting of monthly comps as of February, checked in with quarterly updates that contrasted dramatically. A&F reported a 10 percent increase in first-quarter same-store sales, led by Hollister Co.’s 11 percent improvement, sending its share up 3.7 percent to $73.28 Thursday. Aéropostale could manage no better than a 7 percent reversal in comps and pulled back its EPS guidance to 20 cents, from a prior range of 35 cents to 38 cents, depressing its shares 16.5 percent to $21.19. Aéropostale chief executive officer Thomas Johnson pointed to a teen sector that “remains intensely promotional.”

MOOD OF THE MISS-BEGOTTEN: Although relatively few in number, the composition of the stores falling short of comp estimates Thursday was curious. At the high end, Saks Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. checked in with 5.8 percent and 7.6 percent increases, respectively, versus analyst projections of 10.3 percent and 8.1 percent growth. And midtier rivals J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. posted respective gains of 6.4 percent and 10.2 percent against expectations of increases of 8.5 percent and 15.1 percent.

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