NEW YORK — Shares of May Department Stores Co. rallied 65 cents, or 2.3 percent, to close at $28.61 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange after the retailer said October same-store sales were on plan.

This story first appeared in the November 4, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The St. Louis-based operator of the Lord & Taylor, Filene’s and Kaufmann’s nameplates — among others — said last month’s comparable-store sales retreated 4.2 percent, which fell within the firm’s guidance of a low- to mid-single-digit comp decrease. Excluding the remaining 32 L&T doors May Co. is shuttering, comps fell a more moderate 3.5 percent.

May released comps earlier than usual this month to coincide with its participation in an investors’ conference Sunday night. Most of the retail industry will report its October results on Thursday.

May said comps suffered from unseasonably warm weather throughout much of the U.S. and from the wild fires in Southern California, which greatly diminished traffic. Analysts said Southern California represents about 10 percent of the company’s total sales, and the San Diego area, which was particularly hard hit, accounts for approximately 4 percent.

However, Lehman Brothers analyst Robert Drbul wrote in a research note: “Given that October is typically a small month, we do not expect these factors to impact May’s third-quarter results and are maintaining our earnings per share estimate of 13 cents, which is 2 cents above consensus.”

Banc of America Securities analyst Dana Cohen added that the combination of warm weather and wild fires depleted comps by about a point in the last week of the month.

On a net sales basis, for the four weeks ended Nov. 1, May said revenues dropped 2.4 percent to $887.2 million from $909.1 million in the year-ago period. For the third quarter, net sales ticked down 0.5 percent to $2.98 billion and same-store sales regressed 2.4 percent, or 2.1 percent exclusive of the 32 L&T stores scheduled for divestiture. For the year to date, May reported a 2.9 percent decline in net sales to $8.85 billion from $9.12 billion last year, as comps sagged 4.8 percent, or 4.6 percent without the L&T stores.

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