Retail stocks capped off a positive week with a 0.7 percent gain Friday.
The S&P Retail Index rose 3.53 points to 507.31, registering a 1.5 percent rise for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average perked up 0.5 percent for the day and 1 percent for the week to end at 11,787.38.
Both Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. and Limited Brands Inc. got nods of approval from credit watchdogs to go along with their stock gains for the week.
Moody’s Investors Services, on Friday, lifted its rating on Polo’s senior unsecured credit a tick to “A3” from “Baa1,” putting it four notches into investment-grade territory. The outlook is stable. Moody’s cited the firm’s “stronger than anticipated resilience during the global recession,” as seen in its steadily improving sales and profit results.
Among the “successful investments in growth initiatives” mentioned in a research note authored by senior analyst Scott Tuhy were Polo’s move to control its Asian distribution, its long-term success in Europe and its strong position in and continued development of the direct-to-consumer business.
Shares of Polo rose 1.4 percent to the to $110.01 Friday, making a 3 percent increase for the week.
On Thursday, Standard & Poor’s raised its corporate credit rating on Limited to “BB-plus” from “BB,” putting it just one notch away from an investment grade rating, which could help make it easier for the company to borrow money. The outlook on the rating is stable.
“The ratings on Limited Brands reflect the company’s good performance over the past year and our expectations of further growth, albeit at a diminished rate,” S&P said in its upgrade. “The company’s credit protection profile has demonstrated substantial improvement over the past year, and we anticipate it will achieve incremental gains over the near term. Both its Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works divisions are relatively mature, and historically have provided consistent and solid cash flows.”
S&P noted the company reported a third-quarter comparable-store sales gain of 10 percent and, in November, declared a special dividend worth $3 a share, or about $970 million.
Limited’s stock slid 1.1 percent to $29.11 Friday, but still ended up 1.5 percent for the week.