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Nordstrom Inc. raises its full-year outlook

Upscale retailer’s sales beat expectations

Associated Press

CHICAGO – Upscale department store chain Nordstrom Inc. said it was raising its outlook for the full year after it beat Wall Street forecasts for the first quarter thanks to stronger-than-expected sales.

“While we don’t know what lies ahead, we are well positioned to efficiently manage our business during these times,” company President Blake Nordstrom told investors during a conference call Thursday.

The Seattle-based retailer reported Thursday that its revenue, profit and same-store sales all slid in the first quarter.

It earned $81 million, or 37 cents per share, for the three months that ended May 2, about a third less than the previous year’s profit of $119 million, or 54 cents per share.

Excluding a one-time gain from a federal tax audit, it earned $69 million, or 31 cents per share.

Sales dipped 9 percent to $1.71 billion, down from $1.88 billion one year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Nordstrom to earn 26 cents per share on revenue of $1.69 billion. Those estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Same-store sales – an important retail industry metric of sales in stores open at least a year – fell 13.2 percent overall. Comparable sales at the company’s standard department stores fell 16.5 percent but they rose 1.2 percent at the company’s discount Nordstrom Rack locations.

Boosting its 2009 outlook, Nordstrom said it now expects to earn between $1.25 and $1.50 per share. It previously forecast a profit of $1.10 to $1.40 per share. The new forecast includes a gain of 6 cents per share from the tax benefit in the first quarter.

Nordstrom, which has been faring better than its competitors amid the economic downturn, operates 175 stores in 28 states nationwide. Nordstrom shares climbed 50 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $21.45 in after-hours activity Thursday, after closing at $20.95 during regular trading.

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