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July Comp Crux

Analysts and economists, who generally took June’s weak results as a sign of disappointments to come, had to readjust their metric antennae once again.

CHANGING GEARS: Analysts and economists, who generally took June’s weak results as a sign of disappointments to come, had to readjust their metric antennae once again Thursday as comparable-store sales for both July and the second quarter raced past anticipated levels. Excluding drug stores, Thomson Reuters’ SSS Index finished July ahead 4.6 percent, its highest level since a 6.9 percent leap in March, a month that benefited from Easter’s timing, and the beat-to-miss ratio came in at better than three-to-one. Gap Inc.’s 10 percent stride provided not only the largest single upside surprise, coming against a 3.8 percent estimate, but was the retailer’s first double-digit finish — at least on the positive side — since March 2010.

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This story first appeared in the August 3, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

GROUNDED TEENS: Following a large reduction in guidance by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on Wednesday, rival teen retailer — and fellow former monthly reporter — Aéropostale Inc. saw its shares wither $6.37, or a hefty 32.8 percent, to $13.08 after it reduced second-quarter earnings guidance to break-even on a per-share basis, from its earlier range of a profit of 3 to 5 cents. Comparable sales — same-store sales including e-commerce results — were essentially flat as chief executive officer Thomas Johnson noted “weaker than anticipated” store traffic despite “a more cohesive fashion offering.”

BARGAIN BRAND BONANZA: The TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. Thursday could practically have worked off the same press release in reporting their June results. They tied for fourth best among the companies disclosing same-store sales — behind only Limited Brands Inc., Gap Inc. and Zumiez Inc. — with matching 7 percent comp increases that easily surpassed the respective analyst estimates of 5 and 4.5 percent. In what has become practically a pas de deux between the nation’s two largest off-price retailers in recent seasons, both lifted second-quarter earnings estimates as their ceo’s, Carol Meyrowitz and Michael Balmuth, lauded the branded values available at their stores.