February Retail Sales Better Than Feared

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Retailers are announcing February U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 2.7% year-over-year. Retail sales gained just 2% in February of 2013, excluding drug store sales. Including drug store February same-store sales are forecast to rise 3.1%.

Retail Metrics noted that teen apparel stores are expected to see a drop of 7% in same-store sales during the recently ended fourth quarter. Home furnishings, home improvement items, luxury goods and footwear have performed better.

Here is a rundown on stores that have reported sales:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) just reported quarterly earnings and same-store sales. Including gasoline, same-store sales for February rose 3%, compared with February 2013. That is higher than the Retail Metrics estimate for a gain of 2.8%, including gasoline sales. Excluding negative impacts from lower gasoline sales, Costco posted same-store sales growth of 4% for the month.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for February rose 2% compared with last year. Retail Metrics estimated a rise of 1.3%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. The consensus earnings per share (EPS) estimate for the quarter ending in April is $0.48, flat with a year ago. Revenues are expected to total $2.37 billion, up 4.6%.

The Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported that same-store sales for February fell 1.4% compared with the same period a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a drop of 2.6%. Buckle will announce fourth-quarter results on March 14, and analysts expect EPS of $1.20 on revenues of $350.77 million. The company also announced a number of executive promotions Thursday.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 2.1% decline in same-store sales for February, well below the 2.3% positive growth estimate from Retail Metrics. In February of last year, sales rose 0.6%. Stein Mart will report quarterly results on March 13 and is expected to post EPS of $0.26 on revenues of $364.49 million. Both estimates reflect lower performance compared with the fourth quarter of 2012.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) posted a same-store sales increase of 8.8% for February. Retail Metrics estimated a gain of 0.4%. Last February the company posted a drop of 8.9% in same-store sales. Zumiez is also scheduled to report quarterly results on March 13, and the current consensus analyst estimates call for EPS of $0.62 on revenues of $226.53 million.

Costco shares were down 2.2% in Thursday’s premarket to $113.50. The stock’s 52-week range is $101.01 to $126.12.

L Brands shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket, having closed Wednesday at $57.51, in a 52-week range of $42.83 to $67.12.

Stein Mart shares closed at $14.21 Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $7.44 to $16.17, and were inactive Thursday morning.

Zumiez shares were inactive in the premarket, having closed Wednesday at $23.83, in a 52-week range of $20.68 to $33.50.

The Buckle’s shares closed at $45.08 Wednesday night, in a 52-week range of $41.45 to $56.32, and were inactive Thursday morning.

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