Holiday Updates Hurt Shares of Lululemon, Coldwater

Express soars on stronger profit projections.

Holiday updates weighed heavily on shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc. and Coldwater Creek Inc., while Express Inc. bucked the trend broader trend by pleasantly surprising Wall Street.

As of 12:40 p.m. in New York, retail stocks were outperforming in a flat market.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was ahead 0.8 percent, or 5.46 points, to 676.02, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 13,506.72. Gap Inc. was the retail index’s strongest gainer, rising 3.2 percent to $32.47.

But Express was the stock standout among fashion players. The company  raised its fourth-quarter profit outlook on the back of a stronger than anticipated holiday season — a relative rarity among retailers this year.

The firm, which over 600 doors, now expects fourth-quarter earnings of 72 cents to 74 cents a diluted share, up from the 62 cents to 68 cents previously anticipated. It’s stock shot up 21.4 percent to $17.07.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. was headed in the other direction after its outlook for the holiday quarter fell short of investor hopes. The company said earnings would tally 74 cents a diluted share, above the 71 cents to 73 cents previously projected. Comparable-store sales are slated to rise by a percentage in the high-single digits, on a constant-dollar basis.

Lululemon’s growth in recent years, however, has set the investor bar high and shares of the company fell 5.4 percent to $68.38.

Coldwater Creek Inc., which is trying to get its groove back, was hit even harder. It’s stock dropped 20 percent to $4 after the company said its fourth-quarter adjusted losses would range from 70 cents to 85 cents a diluted share. The company had been looking for losses of 55 cents to 65 cents.

“We experienced strong sales during peak holiday selling periods, highlighted by record Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend performance, and favorable overall customer response to our holiday collections,” said Jill Dean, president and chief executive officer. “However, our holiday results were negatively impacted by weak traffic in both early November and early December. In response to what we believe are largely macro-economic issues impacting our customers’ shopping behavior, we were more promotional than we originally anticipated, lowering our margins, but enabling us to move through our holiday inventory.”