At the opening bell, Wall Street was positioned to see a bounce back in trading values amid worries that the Federal Reserve would implement a rate hike this summer.
For the retail segment, a slurry of weak earnings weighed on traders as concerns of overall weakness in consumer spending grew. Still, the segment eked out a gain at the opening.
As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 73 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,508 while the S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent to 2,050. The S&P Retailing Industry Group Index rose 0.3 percent to 1,262 at the bell.
The decliners included: New York & Co. Inc., which was down 38 percent to $1.83 following a disappointing quarterly report after-market Thursday; Ross Stores Inc. with a 4.5 percent decline to $53.01; Bon-Ton Stores Inc. with a 2.4 percent drop to $1.60, and Bebe Stores Inc. with a 2.2 percent to decline to 34 cents.
The top gainers at the opening were Gap Inc. with a 2.2 percent increase to $17.66; Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. with a 2.4 percent rise to $42.37; Perry Ellis International Inc. with a 2.6 percent gain to $19.09, and Destination XL Group Inc. with a 4 percent increase to $4.68.
This morning, analysts at Telsey Advisory Group lowered its annual same-store sales and earnings estimates for Gap Inc. following the retailer’s quarterly report after market Thursday. “Following the weak first-quarter results, the lack of visibility to a meaningful turn in the Gap brand, management turnover at Old Navy and continued difficulty with the offering at Banana Republic, we are further cutting our annual earnings-per-share estimates,” the analysts said in their note today. “We now look for [fiscal-year 2016] EPS of $1.90, down from $2 previously. Our new estimate assumes an annual comp decline of 2.9 percent (down from a 1.4 percent decrease), with a gross margin decline of 130 bps (down from a 120-bp decrease previously).”
New York & Co.’s stock decline followed the company’s report of a wider loss and a 2.3 percent same-store sales decline for the first quarter. The retailer also issued an outlook where net sales and comps were “expected to be flat to slightly negative.”
Eric Beder, equity analyst at Wunderlich Securities Inc., downgraded the stock this morning to a “Hold” and lowered the price target from $3.50 to $2.25. “We are cutting our rating to “Hold” (from “Buy”) and slashing our estimates and price target for New York & Co. after the company announced highly disappointing first-quarter results and second-quarter guidance,” Beder said in his report. “While we did not expect New York & Co. to be totally immune from the malaise that has affected the specialty retailing sector, we did believe the company’s supply chain streamlining program and strong results from Eva Mendes and Jennifer Hudson lines would have provided some protection; we were wrong and, after waiting and waiting for the turn, are finally giving up and moving to the sidelines.”
Gregory Scott, New York & Co.’s chief executive officer, said while the company “continued to experience strength in traffic and sales in our e-commerce business, along with positive sales trends in our celebrity backed subbrands, Eva Mendes and Soho Jeans featuring Jennifer Hudson, these positives were not enough to overcome the negative traffic in stores, and weakness for seasonal categories, including crops, shorts, T-shirts and dresses.”
Meanwhile, Corinna Freedman, equity analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, said she initiated coverage on Ralph Lauren Corp. with a “Buy” rating and a $115 price target. “Despite a high penetration of wholesale, relative brand maturity in North America, heightened execution risk given new leadership and a restructured management team, we find a strong vertical global brand house with a powerful heritage that we believe can successfully stage a turnaround by regaining relevancy among a new younger demographic with significant category opportunities remaining in women’s and accessories,” Freedman said. “We also believe strong international growth opportunities remain and that the Club Monaco repositioning is underappreciated by investors.”
Shares of Ralph Lauren were up 1.5 percent to $90.33 at the opening.