Macy's just had its worst day ever, but there are still bargain buys in the retail space

Macy's is having an epic holiday hangover.

Shares of the department store fell more than 17 percent on Thursday — the stock's worst day on record — after the retailer reported weak holiday sales and cut its profit outlook. Its futures price was down fractionally just before Friday's opening bell.

Strategic Wealth Partners' Mark Tepper says this is a Macy's-only problem, and that pockets of retail remain strong.

"The consumer is strong. Consumer sentiment is just shy of its March 2018 high, so this is definitely a Macy's-specific problem," he said Thursday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "It's just not a good company. You know they're a dinosaur. They haven't evolved. They were late to the game in shifting their business towards e-commerce. They have absolutely no pricing power, I mean shoppers walk in expecting a massive discount, which just kills margins."

Within the retail space Tepper is looking for companies that focus on customer experience, as well as those that are insulated from e-commerce, at least to a certain degree.

"I would be favoring those companies that are evolving while providing a good experience like Nordstrom. Their digital sales are up 20 percent year over year, and the stock would be so much higher if not for their credit card interest error, which to me just represents a buying opportunity," he said.

The retailer in November wrote down $72 million in credit card refunds to customers who were incorrectly charged higher interest rates. The stock has plunged around 20 percent since.

Tepper also has the consumer in mind in a different way. He believes O'Reilly Automotive is a good opportunity because he doesn't think people are going to buy all of their car parts on Amazon, as some on Wall Street suspect.

Like Tepper, Miller Tabak's Matt Maley believes investors can selectively own retail names here. Following Macy's plunge, he said the group of stocks "doesn't look as bad as it might" and that consumer data "still looks pretty good."

He's carefully watching two important levels on the chart of the retail ETF XRT. One is a buy signal, while the other is a clear sell sign.

"When I look at the XRT ... on the resistance side we've got a key level at the 50-day moving average. That's stopped the last two rallies in the last quarter or so, so if we can finally break above that, it's going to be positive," he said. "On the negative side, you have a line in the sand at $38.50. That's a level that it has bounced off of five of the last six years, and it did so back in December just a few weeks ago, so that's provided excellent support," he added.

The XRT fell Thursday, dragged lower by Macy's, Abercrombie & Fitch, Kohl's, and L Brands, all of which were down more than 4 percent.

The XRT is currently hovering around bear market territory. Despite a strong showing in December, it's still down nearly 18 percent from its 52-week intraday high of $52.96, hit on Aug. 22.

Disclosure: Mark Tepper owns shares of Nordstrom.

— CNBC's Christine Wang contributed reporting.


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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