Thursday brought a deluge of reports from retailers detailing the success or failure of their Christmas-season sales. For some, it was a return to winning (or losing) form, for others the data could mark a turnaround — and an early place for investors to either hop on or move to a better performer.
Here’s who surprised Wall Street, for better and for worse:
Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) — The teen retailer saw its same-store sales jump by 15% during its five-week Holiday season, beating already lofty expectations for 10.1%. Total sales jumped 26% to nearly $600 million. Shareholders will remember this name blew out same-store sales in November as well. However, investor reaction is showing the stock is getting frothy — shares are down about 6% from its peak on Tuesday, following a runup of nearly two-thirds its value since mid-September.
Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) — The bookseller saw comparable-store sales jump almost 10%, and called its bookstore holiday sales the strongest in over a decade. The company also showed it may be managing the transition to digital sales quite well: It said isold virtually its entire inventory of Nookcolor and E-Ink devices during the holiday season, while sales at Barnes & Noble.com soared 67% to $228.5 million.
TJX (NYSE:TJX) — The parent company of discount retailers TJ Maxx and Marshall’s turned in 2% comparable-store sales growth — beating expectations for a decline. As a result, the company boosted its fourth-quarter earnings expectations. Shares of TJX were up 5% in early Thursday trading.
Saks (NYSE:SKS) — The luxury retailer got back on track during the holiday season — after missing November expectations, with same-store sales jumped 11.8% in December. The company said both women’s and men’s apparel performed well, as did shoes, handbags, and cosmetics. The stock has stalled out over the past two months but was more than 2% higher on Thursday.
Gap (NYSE:GPS) — The lengthening struggle at the ubiquitous clothing retailer looks like it is continuing. Same-store sales fell 3% in December, missing expectations for a small gain. Investors have punished the stock, taking it down nearly 8% — and certainly frustrating longtime shareholders who can remember when the stock was at more than twice the current level. The company’s core Gap North America stores saw comparable-store sales fall 8%.
Aeropostale (NYSE:ARO) — It’s been a rough few months for the teen retailer, and Christmas was no kinder. The company saw same-store sales fall 5%, and this is on top of disappointing November. The stock was finding some support on Thursday from bullish analysts defending the company, but shares are still off nearly 20% since late April.
Target (NYSE:TGT) — The company had a mostly flat holiday season, but expectations were for same-store sales to rise nearly 4%. The company said December sales strength in grocery and apparel was offset by softness in electronics, toys and some home categories. Sales in some key gift-giving categories moved earlier into the holiday season, and lower-margin items drove a higher portion of sales than expected, Target added. The stock was off more than 6% on Thursday.
American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) — Another name that disappointed in November, the company reported that holiday same-store sales plunged 11%, way beyond expectations for a 2% fall. The company cited strength in denim sales, but apparently not much else worked. Similar to Aeropostale, however, investors were piling into the stock on Thursday, driving it more than 5% higher. Options traders, too, took notice as speculation was swirling after rumors that the company has dropped out of a conference next week.