Nordstrom Joins Macy’s and JCPenney With Mixed Q4 Finish

Nordstrom is the latest retailer to deliver mixed results for the fourth quarter, indicating slower-than-expected sales during the holiday season.

The Seattle-based department store said its earnings for the three months ended Feb. 2 were $1.48 per share, ahead of the consensus estimate of $1.42 per share. Comparable sales were mostly flat, growing 0.1 percent over the same period last year. While sales at Nordstrom’s off-price Rack stores grew 4 percent, full-price comparable sales declined 1.6 percent for the quarter, which the company said was due to slower traffic in stores.

Fourth-quarter net earnings were $248 million, compared with $151 million during the same period in fiscal 2017.

The company warned investors last month that its full-price holiday sales came in below expectations, necessitating additional discounting. As a result, it said that full-year earnings per share will likely come in at the lower end of its $3.27 to $3.37 range, inclusive of a nonrecurring credit-related charge in the third quarter.

Nordstrom outpaced this forecast, however, reporting earnings per diluted share of $3.32 for fiscal 2018. Full-year comparable sales increased 1.7 percent.

Nordstrom’s share price jumped more than 5 percent after market close. While the retailer has come out ahead of earnings estimates for the past three quarters, its share price sank 14.88 percent over the last 52-week period.

Department store competitors have so far missed out on the blockbuster spending that some early analysis of holiday retail sales promised: Macy’s fourth-quarter profits came in above analysts’ forecasts at $2.73 per share, but this still represented a 4 percent dip over last year, and CEO Jeff Gennette said the retailer’s holiday sales didn’t meet its expectations.

Beleaguered JCPenney, meanwhile, benefited from the initial pessimism of investors and analysts: Its stock soared more than 20 percent Thursday on the announcement that its comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter fell only 4 percent, versus the 4.7 percent that Wall Street had anticipated.

This is the first round of earnings that Nordstrom has reported since the unexpected passing of co-president Blake Nordstrom, who died last month at the age of 58 after a short battle with lymphoma.

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