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A Bright Sign For Retail

If you want some sign that retail sales really are looking a bit better, take a look at Oxford Industries, which is up 20 percent this morning to its high for the year.

Not only did their earnings beat estimates, but they provided guidance for the full year that was well above analyst expectations. This is important, since they had suspended guidance two quarters ago on the grounds that they had no visibility.

Their big brands are Tommy Bahama and Ben Sherman, but they also make clothes for other companies-they are the licensee for Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, Geoffrey Beane, Dockers, and others, and they sell to big names like Nordstrom and Macy's, Costco and Land's End.

Yes, much of the gain was due to cost reductions, but analysts note that the CEO of Tommy Bahama has been very upbeat on pricing.

KeyBanc, which upgraded OXM to a Buy this morning, noted that "Commentary from retailers buying spring 2010 merchandise this past week looks highly favorable, and management noted that trends have improved sequentially."

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