Retail stocks rose 5.8 percent last week, supported by readings of consumer confidence and the job market that were negative, but no worse than feared.
The same kind of proportionality — if retailers are lucky — could apply to comparable-store sales reports this Thursday. Some chains are expected to show signs of stabilization in March, as well as a benefit from the timing of Easter, and even if the numbers aren’t actually good, the absence of downright bad results might be enough to send stocks higher.
Citigroup equity analyst Deborah Weinswig predicted comps at broadline retailers increased 1.2 percent in March versus a 0.3 percent rise a year ago.
“We believe favorable weather, pent-up demand, continued promotional activity and tax refund distributions spurred sales of spring merchandise,” said Weinswig, noting Wal-Mart Stores Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. are most likely to turn in better-than-expected results.
Standard & Poor’s equity research group also saw cause for some optimism. “We are seeing less discounting at Macy’s this spring versus last fall-winter,” said S&P. “Firmer pricing implies to us that customer spending levels, while still down year-over-year, have potentially stabilized.”
Another week of stock increases would help solidify an upswing that has sparked hopes, however faint, that some sort of a bottom has been reached.
On Friday, the S&P Retail Index advanced 1.2 percent, or 3.74 points, to end the week at 314.17. Retail stocks are up 40.8 percent from their March 6 low. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday registered a rise of 0.5 percent, or 39.51 points, to 8,017.59, marking a 3.1 percent increase for the week and guaranteeing at least a weekend stay above the 8,000 level.
Last week, the Conference Board said consumer confidence remained at all-time lows for March and the unemployment rate also hit a 25-year high of 8.5 percent, about what economists had predicted.
Jeweler Zale Corp. enjoyed a dramatic rise in its stock, which increased 48 percent to $4.16 on Friday and was ahead 77 percent for the week after a series of investor meetings.
David Sternblitz, Zale’s vice president and treasurer, said, “There’s more recognition from the investment community that we will be a survivor in the jewelry industry as things consolidate. We are taking a number of steps in terms of managing our inventory, our expenses, looking at our real estate portfolio to prepare us to capture market share as the environment improves.”
Off-pricer TJX Cos. Inc. also caught the attention of Wall Street. RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin initiated coverage of the company, giving its shares a rating of outperform with a target price of $31. The stock closed up 2.1 percent Friday at $26.68 and was ahead 0.5 percent for the week.
“Better positioned players in the off-price channel will continue to outperform their department store peers,” Tubin said. “The channel is likely gaining new customers as the consumer continues to show a laser focus on ‘value.’”
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For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews