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Retailers Get Back To Basics

Most of the large retailers have reported, and the results are better than expected, at least on the bottom line.

Remember desperate efforts to clear merchandise over Christmas? Remember Macy's infamous 50 PERCENT OFF EVERYTHING sale? That is gone.

Companies are beating earnings on:

-cost cutting, and

-much better inventory management.

That's fine, and it's good news...but what about the topline? When will sales stabilize? Look at this comparable store guidance for the full year from these companies:

    • Saks: down low double-digits
    • Home Depot: down 9%
    • Lowe's: down 4%-8%
    • Dick's Sporting Goods: down 6-9%
    • Nordstrom: down 10-15%
    • JC Penney: down 9%

Pretty poor, eh? But traders keep saying it's better than down 20 percent that a lot were expecting earlier in the year.

Bottom line: most professional traders in retail stocks are not worried about the lack of topline growth. The position of the bulls is:

1) The most important story is that companies are SURVIVING

2) Topline growth is a 2010 story

3) 2009 is the trough year for earnings




Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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