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Retail Sales: There Is Some Good News

March retail same store sales were weak, outside of discounters. Remember companies and analysts have been aggressively taking down first quarter estimates for over a month (as well as same store sales), but companies like JC Penney,Target,Gap,Abercrombie, and Kohls were all notably below expectations on same store sales.

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
XXICM
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JCP
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KSS
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TGT
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As for earnings, while Wal-Mart boosted guidance, that has been the exception in retail land. Since JC Penney guided down a couple weeks ago, the guidance has been almost unanimously to the downside. Today, for example:

1) Kohls guided Q1 down (to $0.40-$0.42, the consensus was $0.50);

2) Rite Aid gave guidance for fiscal 2009 below expectations (loss of $0.34-$0.48 vs. loss of $0.15);

3) Stage Stores said first quarter would be below expectations (loss of $0.05-$0.08, vs. previous guidance of a gain of $0.13);

4) American Eaglesaid earnings would be below previous guidance ($0.18-$0.20 vs. previous guidance of $0.25-$0.27).

Is there any good news here? Yes, because the Street has been so unrelentingly bearish retail stocks are barely off their January lows; no rally means that the downside is somewhat limited. I expect retailers to be mostly flat to slightly up today because there may be some short-covering in this heavily shorted group.


Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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

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