Kohl's stock gains as earnings and sales beat estimates and retailer sees 'acceleration of traffic'

Key Points
  • Kohl's fourth-quarter earnings and sales top estimates.
  • The retailer is calling for same-store sales to range from negative 1% to positive 1% in fiscal 2020.
Dina Rudick | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Kohl's stock rose more than 4% Tuesday after the retailer reported fourth-quarter earnings and net sales that beat analysts' expectations, following disappointing results during the holidays.

CEO Michelle Gass said the chain saw an "acceleration of traffic," and new customers in stores and online, with Kohl's launching a slew of new brands ahead of and during the holiday season.

Kohl's is calling for same-store sales to range from negative 1% to positive 1% in fiscal 2020. The company said its outlook does not incorporate any potential hit from the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which started in China. It said China is not its No. 1 sourcing market for its private labels.

Here's how Kohl's did during its fiscal fourth quarter compared with what analysts were expecting, based on data pulled from Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.99, adjusted, vs. $1.88 expected
  • Net sales: $6.54 billion vs. $6.52 billion expected
  • Same-store sales: flat vs. a drop of 0.1% expected

Net income during Kohl's fourth quarter ended Feb. 1 fell to $265 million, or $1.72 a share, from $272 million, or $1.67 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Kohl's earned $1.99 per share, better than the $1.88 a share expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Net sales were essentially flat at $6.54 billion year over year, but better than the $6.52 billion that analysts were expecting. Total revenue was $6.83 billion, up from $6.82 billion a year ago.

Same-store sales were flat, better than the 0.1% drop expected by analysts.

Looking to the current fiscal year, Kohl's is now calling for earnings per share to range from $4.20 to $4.60. Analysts had been forecasting $4.59 a share, according to data from Refinitiv.

Kohl's had already reported disappointing holiday sales figures, prompting the retailer to lower its full-year profit outlook. It said same-store sales, which track the purchases online and at stores open for at least a year, declined 0.2% during November and December. Its women's business in particular was a weak spot during the holiday season, Gass had said.

The women's category remained challenged through the year, Gass told analysts during a post-earnings conference call on Tuesday. The company said it will aim to fix some of those issues by phasing out eight of its women's brands, which have under-performed, as it phases in new ones. It said it has a new women's leadership team in place.

The underwhelming holiday results also led analysts to doubt Kohl's tie-up with Amazon, where it accepts Amazon-related returns at all of its stores, can boost sales. But Gass said earlier this year that it "is working."

On Tuesday, she added that there was a "surge" of Amazon returns at Kohl's stores after the holidays. She said the Amazon returns program helped Kohl's report positive same-store sales in January.

So far, department store rivals J.C. Penney and Macy's have reported drops in sales during the fourth quarter, along with same-store sales declines. Nordstrom is set to report after Tuesday's closing bell.

Kohl's shares have fallen more than 43% over the past 12 months. The company has a market cap of about $6.1 billion.

Kohl's is expected to hold a meeting with investors in New York on March 16.

Read the full earnings press release here.

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