By and  on April 20, 2009

Retailers kept their Wall Street winning streak alive last week, concluding with gains on Friday for the sixth consecutive week of advances.

The S&P Retail Index rose 1.3 percent to 332.45, allowing it to end the week with a 1.1 percent gain. Retail shares have gained a robust 13.2 percent since the end of last month and a full 19 percent for the year.

The broader market, while advancing, hasn’t enjoyed the same level of appreciation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,131.33 for the day, up 0.1 percent, giving it a 0.6 percent advance for the week and a 6.9 percent gain for the month to date. However, the Dow is still off 7.3 percent for the year.

For the most part, shares of department stores rose last week despite a dour outlook for the sector, still working off inventory ordered before the consumer slowdown began in earnest and facing a tough road ahead.

On Thursday, debt watchdog Standard & Poor’s lowered its ratings on Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Dillard’s Inc., and Nordstrom Inc. as well as privately held Neiman Marcus Inc., which has public debt. Both Penney’s and Macy’s moved into noninvestment, or “junk,” territory.

“The rating actions reflect Standard & Poor’s deepening concern about the impact of the U.S. recession on the increasingly troubled department store sector,” said Diane Shand, S&P credit analyst.

S&P said the economy will continue to contract through at least the third quarter of this year.

“We believe lower consumer spending and declining mall traffic will affect the sales and profits of the department store operators this year,” Shand said.

But all four of the public companies rose in trading Friday, paced by Nordstrom’s 4.8 percent increase to $22.26 and Macy’s 4.6 percent pickup to $13.10. The upward momentum put the companies’ shares ahead 1.6 percent and 10.3 percent for the week, respectively. Meanwhile, Dillard’s increased 5.1 percent for the day, and 9.7 percent for the week, to close at $7.60.

Penney’s was up 2.3 percent for the day and 5.4 percent for the week to $26.80.

Saks Inc. saw a 14.2 percent leap to $3.54 on Friday, putting it up 25.5 percent for the week and at nearly 2.4 times its 52-week low of $1.50, reached on March 10.

Perhaps most dramatic of all, Revlon Inc. shares Friday spiked 37.9 percent to $3.93 on volume of nearly 2.6 million shares, more than 13 times the trading average. The day’s performance left the stock 47.2 percent above its close on April 9.

Other firms with gains of more than 20 percent for the week included: Pacific Sunwear of California, up 34.1 percent to $2.24; Lululemon Athletica, up 31.6 percent to $14.26; Gildan Activewear Inc., up 29.2 percent to $12.70, and Charming Shoppes, up 26.5 percent to $2.72.

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