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Retail results put lipstick on piggish-looking earnings

Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

After a batch of new earnings reports, the overall trend remains the same: retailers are still on the ropes.

The scorecard for the sector's earnings today: 6 companies reported, and 5 of them beat. That's the good news.

Now for the bad: of those five beats, Targetwhich missed on profit but surprised to the upside on revenueAmerican Eagle and Petsmart provided guidance below current expectations. Only one, Tiffany, guided higher, while Lowe's just managed to reiterate its previous outlook.

Lowe's said essentially the same thing Home Depot said yesterday: "Performance has improved in May which, together with our strengthening execution, gives us the confidence to reaffirm our sales and operating profit outlook for the year."

But here's the problem: Lowe's comparable store sales were up only 0.9 percent while Home Depot was up 2.6 percent. That matters, because they've been reshuffling senior management recently, and that probably doesn't help.

More impressive is the fact that Tiffany had a strong earnings beat on impressive global sales. Worldwide same store sales were up 11 percent, far greater than the four percent gain expected. Take a look at their same store sales data:

Worldwide up 11 percent

Americas up 8 percent

Asia up 10 percent

Japan up 30 percent

Europe down 3 percent

Figures for the Americas were up 8 percent, stronger than expected. Asia's 10 percent gain was also stronger than expected, as well as sales in China and Australia. The big surprise was Japan—up 30 percent? Many believe this is partly due to a desire of Japanese consumers to beat the new consumption tax.

Europe was the big disappointment, with sales down three percent; most were expecting a modest gain.

--By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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