May 14, 2010 in Business

Nordstrom sees gains in sales, profit

Results still fall short of analysts’ predictions
Sarah Skidmore Associated Press
 

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PORTLAND – Nordstrom Inc. says its affluent clients remain cautious but are willing to shop more these days.

The high-end retailer reported late Thursday that stronger sales drove its first-quarter net income up nearly 44 percent. Nordstrom raised its full-year outlook on the results.

But the quarter missed Wall Street’s expectations, and shares fell in after-hours trading.

Nordstrom, based in Seattle, said it earned $116 million, or 52 cents per share, for the quarter. That’s up from $81 million, or 37 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Revenue grew nearly 17 percent to $2.09 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn 55 cents per share on revenue of $1.97 billion.

Nordstrom said it saw strong sales of jewelry, dresses and women’s shoes during the quarter, and early signs indicate more customers are in its stores as they shop for the warmer weather.

The company saw fewer markdowns as a percentage of sales during the quarter. And its credit card business began to show signs of increased stability as payments improved and its delinquency rates return to levels more comparable with the first half of 2009.

However, the company continued to see softer sales at stores in California and a disproportionate share of its write-offs from customers in that state, one of the hardest hit by the economic downturn.

Nordstrom leaders were optimistic, they said, based on improving sales. The company reported that sales at stores open at least a year grew 13.7 percent and its Nordstrom Rack stores saw the same measure grow nearly 2 percent.

Sales at stores open at least a year are considered an important measure of a retailer’s performance because they strip away the impact of new stores.

Nordstrom says it now expects to earn $2.50 to $2.65 per share, up from its previous guidance of $2.35 to $2.55.

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