With 80% of the 120 companies it tracks having reported first quarter 2012 results, research firm Retail Metrics says that retailers who beat earnings estimates are up 5% year-over-year for the period, considerably higher than the 12-year average gain of 3.2%. Of 97 retailers reporting to date, 71% have beat expectations, 14% have met expectations, and 15% have missed.
Earnings growth for the reporting retailers is up too, by 11.8%. Excluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) due to its size, Retail Metrics reckons that its 120 retailers will show profit growth of 12.2% in the first quarter. Including Walmart, profits will rise 13.8%.
The best profit growth is expected in the recreational sector, with Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) and Hibbett Sports Inc. (NASDAQ: HIBB) leading the way a 40%+ earnings gain. Home furnishing retailers are expected to post 40% gains, led by Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) and Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM). Footwear retailers are tabbed to grow profits 31%, following huge gains at Brown Shoe Co. (NYSE: BWS) and Footlocker Inc. (NYSE: FL).
The worst performing sector is projected to be consumer electronics, with teen apparel stores the only other retailing sector expected to post overall losses. Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) and GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) are the big players here. Teen apparel retailers like Wet Seal Inc. (NASDAQ: WTSLA), Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) have struggled with same-store sales and revenues, as well as earnings.