Retail Stocks Take A Step Back

Teen retailers weigh on sector after Express results disappoint.

Retail stocks pulled back for a third straight day as investors brooded over fourth-quarter results from last year and first-quarter guidance for 2014.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group lightened 0.1 percent to close today at 932.20, matching the decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which ended the trading day at 16,340.08. The S&P 500 gained less than 0.1 percent to end at 1,868.20.

Among U.S. retail, fashion and beauty stocks tracked by WWD, the largest sell-off came from Express Inc., shares of which slid 12 percent, to $16.05, after it fell short of Wall Street expectations for both fourth-quarter earnings and first-quarter profit guidance. Cache Inc. shares fell 5.2 percent to $4.60 while Destination XL Group Inc. and Ann Inc. lost 3.9 and 3.3 percent of their share value, respectively, to close at $5.95 and $34.90. Destination XL and Ann report fourth-quarter results on Friday while Cache’s are due on March 25.

Two stocks recently hit by declines came back, with American Apparel Inc. shares up 8.1 percent to 75 cents and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. shares up 7 percent to $10.50. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. continued its recent ascent, gaining 3 percent to close at $8.93.

Aéropostale Inc., hard hit by the slump in teen retailing, saw its shares pick up 1.4 percent to close at $7.25. It is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results Thursday.

In Europe, markets ended their day on a down note, with the DAX in Frankfurt leading the way.

The German market was down 1.3 percent to 9,188.69, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris and the FTSE 100 in London, which were both down 1 percent, to 4,306.26 and 6,620.90, respectively. The FTSE MIB in Milan fell 0.3 percent to 20,781.46.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with the exception of Indian online fashion retailer Koovs, which was up 2.3 percent to 2.20 pounds; Bonmarche Holding, 0.3 percent to 2.94 pounds, and Ted Baker, 0.7 percent to 21.62 pounds.

Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Brunello Cucinelli, down 1.8 percent to 19.93 euros; Burberry Group, 1.5 percent to 14.53 pounds; Moncler, 4.2 percent to 12.70 euros; Ferragamo, 2.9 percent to 22.17 euros; Tod’s, 5.1 percent to 94.15 euros, and Yoox.com, 3.5 percent to 29.82 euros.

On Tuesday, Ferragamo posted a 43 percent jump in net profits to 150 million euros, and a 9 percent rise in revenues. Also on Tuesday, Tod’s said net profits in 2013 decreased by 8 percent to 133.8 million euros, affected by weakness in its largest market, Italy, and by unfavorable exchange rates.

The euro traded at $1.39 against the U.S. dollar, while the pound fetched $1.66, and the Swiss franc equaled $1.14.