Retail stocks are up 50.5 percent since their lows in March, but investors uncertain about when an actual recovery will set in seem unable to push shares higher with any lasting conviction.
The S&P Retail Index inched up 0.6 percent, or 1.91 points Monday, to 336.03. The gain came after a 4.8 percent rise last week. Despite the increases, retail stocks are still down 1 percent from the end of April.
Looking at the rest of the year, Robert Drbul, broadline analyst at Barclays Capital, suggested that investors stick with market leaders with strong balance sheets, management depth and a chance to come out of the recession stronger than when they entered. His top picks include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Tiffany & Co., Kohl’s Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
Shares of Wal-Mart fell 0.5 percent to $50.81 Monday; Target rose 1.2 percent to $40.98; Tiffany dipped 0.4 percent to $29.63; Kohl’s increased 0.6 percent to $46.25, and J.C. Penney saw little change, falling 4 cents to $29.05.
Even for retailers working from a solid base, the second half will not be an easy one. Drbul pointed to a range of challenges in an outlook for the second half. They include increasing gas prices and unemployment, the risks of higher interest rates and tight terms for consumer credit.
“Credit card spending limits are being lowered and managed very aggressively by numerous companies,” Drbul said. “We expect the tough environment to continue into the second half of 2009 and are optimistic that a recovery could begin to occur in [the fourth quarter] and early 2010.”
In Asia, shares of Li & Fung Ltd. gave up some of last week’s 20.8 percent rally and slid 5.2 percent to 23.70 Hong Kong dollars, or $3.06. The stock was buoyed by comments from UBS analyst Spencer Leung, who said the sourcing giant could benefit if U.S. consumers start to trade down to lower-priced goods.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast