Nordstrom said late Monday its fourth-quarter profit rose 22% in the period that includes the crucial holiday season. The results just missed Wall Street expectations, sending the clothing retailer's shares lower.
For the quarter ended Feb. 3, Nordstrom reported net income of $232.3 million, or 89 cents a share, up from $190.4 million, or 69 cents a share, for the same period last year.
Quarterly sales increased 15% to $2.6 billion, from $2.3 billion last year. Same-store sales, which excludes stores that weren't open a year ago, grew 8.3%.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were predicting earnings of 90 cents a share on sales of $2.6 billion. The fourth quarter was one week longer than the same period a year earlier.
Nordstrom said its same-store sales exceeded the company's plan, driven by sales across all major categories and a good response from holiday shoppers.
The company also said its merchandise margins improved from a year earlier, with fewer items marked down and better sales in women's clothing. Executives credited that to a new strategy launched last year to improve women's apparel, from casual and career wear to coats and dresses.
"It's probably a little less than half the way through," Pete Nordstrom, the company's president of merchandising, told analysts in a conference call. "But keep in mind, these are strategies that we're going to continue to update over time. It doesn't stop with what we've done here."
For the full year, Nordstrom said profits grew 23% to $678 million, or $2.55 a share, compared with $551 million, or $1.98 per share, a year ago.
Nordstrom said a stock-based compensation expense of $8.4 million lowered fourth-quarter earnings by 2 cents a share. The expense was included in analysts' consensus estimate.