NEW YORK — Investors were shopping for retail on Monday with the expectation that consumers have some shopping plans of their own.
While other major indices gave back most of the gains they picked up earlier in Monday’s trading session, the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index came out the big winner, closing up 2.44 points, or 0.8 percent, to 321.07.
After a brief climb over the feel-good 9,000 point mark earlier in the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 47.55 points, or 0.5 percent, to end the day at 8,897.81. It was the Dow’s highest close all year, as the Nasdaq finished down 5.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,590.75.
Specialty retailers garnered the greatest share of the gains, but many broadline retailers, including department stores, shared in Monday’s bounty as expectations of a modest recovery in the second half combined with a hint of optimism about same-store sales for May.
“My sense is there is renewed interest in what may be a recovery in the consumer sector in the second half,” Jeffrey Klinefelter, a retail analyst with U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, said.
Dorothy Lakner, a retail analyst with CIBC World Markets, noted that, despite the soggy weather in the Northeast, there could be an upside to May’s same-store sales when the majority of the industry reports results on Thursday.
The Institute for Supply Management’s May activity index showed that the battered U.S. manufacturing sector slowed its rate of decline, coming in at a better-than-expected 49.4 in May from 45.4 in April, and marginally better than the 41.5 of February 2001, just prior to the start of the recession.
Shares of Coach won investor adulation, advancing $1.72, or 3.5 percent, to close at $50.85 on New York Stock Exchange, after Merrill Lynch raised its rating on the luxury accessories company to “buy” from “neutral.” Coach broke its previous 52-week high of $49.25, reached May 30.
Analyst Mark Friedman wrote in a report the boost to Coach reflected “an increased level of confidence about the strength of the business and the ability to outperform in this environment against tough ‘compares.’”He said he based his elevation on Coach’s “outstanding, differentiated, fun and yet still classically Coach” fall-holiday 2003 products, the firm’s emphasis on testing, new customer potential and its attractive position in the market.
Ann Taylor also received a kind word from Banc of America retail analyst Dana Cohen. In a note maintaining her “buy” position, Cohen said AT is poised for a second half improvement, driven by the management changes at the AT division. Shares of AT rose 72 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $26.29.
“We remain very encouraged by the organizational changes at AT. Clearly the biggest change has been the addition of Jerome Jessup. However, with him and Mark Eisen and now most recently Michele Delahunty from Gap, the company’s design-merchandising bench is clearly beefed up,” Cohen wrote.
As reported, since last summer, the AT unit has been bolstered by the appointment of Jessup as senior executive vice president for merchandising and design, Eisen as senior vice president of design and Delahunty as senior vice president and general merchandise manager.
Other retail gainers included: American Eagle Outfitters, up 60 cents to $17.53; Cache, up 90 cents to $11; Charlotte Russe, up 46 cents to $10.01; Coldwater Creek, up 68 cents to $12.97; Federated Department Stores, up $1.15 to $33.65; Gap, up 43 cents to $17.43; May Department Stores, up 69 cents to $22.38; ShopKo Stores, up 46 cents to $12.15; Saks, up 28 cents to $9.66; United Retail, up 14 cents to $1.95; Wilson Leather, up 25 cents to $5.97.
Sears Roebuck rose $2, or 6.7 percent, to $31.98 after saying it would work aggressively to maintain its market share in appliances.
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