Wall Street slammed the retail sector on Wednesday following poor earnings and sales results from bellwether Macy’s.
The sell-off resulted in a sea of red for retail stocks such as Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., Coach Inc., Dillard’s Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Perry Ellis International. The S&P Retail ETF fell by 4 percent to $41.72.
“We expect a number of retailers in the space to report weak numbers for the first quarter with downward earnings revisions, reflecting a continuation of trends we saw in the fourth quarter,” said Fitch Ratings retail analyst Monica Aggarwal.
It began with Macy’s stock, which ended the day down more than 15 percent to close at $31.38 after reporting sales decreases in the first quarter and forecasting more declines to come. It was the comments about weakness in the center core categories during the earnings call that motivated investors to hit the sell button on the other retail stocks.
The center core categories include handbags, jewelry and watches — products found on the first floor. While Macy’s said most of the decline came from tourists, chief financial officer Karen Hoguet did concede on the call that domestic shopping in the core declined as well.
Those comments, along with Fossil’s dramatic slash in sales guidance for the year late Tuesday, prompted Kors’ shareholders to jump ship. Kors stock fell more than 11 percent to $44.01. Kors accounts for roughly half of Fossil’s licensed business and the licensed products were 8 percent of Kors’ net sales in 2015.
“I’ve been saying all along that the first quarter was going to be tough,” said Jan Rogers Kniffen of Kniffen Global Enterprises. “Everybody’s in the same boat. It’s not just a Macy’s problem.” He said the weather trends had all said it would be a tough selling season and it has played out as forecast.
“I’m always surprised at this reaction because we knew it was coming,” Kniffen said. He was surprised about the reaction to a decline in watch sales. “If Apple sold 30 million smartwatches, that means they didn’t spend money elsewhere in the watch category,” he said.
Dillard’s stock slid by more than 8 percent to $62.48 ahead of its earnings on May 12. The department store is mostly located in Texas and Florida. Texas was hit with severe weather in April with extreme flooding in Houston and water related evacuations in east Texas.
Coach saw its stock fall by almost 6 percent to $38.20 over worries that the sales slump in the department stores would translate into a decline for the handbag-makers. Coach had been on a roll with the stock climbing 30 percent in the past six months, so it’s not inconceivable that traders decide to take some profits here. Coach had reported that its net sales increased 13 percent for the third quarter back on March 26, but retail investors have gotten jittery about spring sales.
Kohl’s also reports its earnings on May 12, but investors chose not to sell on the news, but instead a day ahead of the news. Kohl’s had already said gross margins would drop as it aggressively clears out merchandise. The company has been closing stores and was cautious about fiscal 2016. The stock closed down more than 6 percent to $38.69.
Perry Ellis stock dropped more than 9 percent to $16.95. Perry Ellis clothing can be found at both Kohl’s, Dillards and Macy’s. Again, investors are making the assumption that if it’s bad at the stores, then it will be bad for the brands. Perry Ellis will report its earnings on May 19.
“Come August, the weather will be reasonable and traders will see that consumers are enjoying higher wages with lower energy costs,” Kniffen said. He pointed out that unemployment is low and back-to-school will happen as it always does.
“Mysteriously stocks will get bought again as things will be better in the second half,” he said. He did warn that there are still too many stores and too many malls and shopping continues to transfer to the Internet.
The world’s largest retailer was not immune to the sell-off as Wal-Mart fell 2.75 percent on a day that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Index drop 217 points.