Department store shares mixed on September results

NEW YORK -- September sales figures for department stores fell short of expectations as shoppers slowed spending following a splurge in August. Shares across the sector were mixed in midday trading.

Revenue in stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent overall, short of the 2.5 percent rise analysts were expecting, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenue in stores open at least a year is a key measure of a retailer's financial health because it excludes stores that open or close during the year.

The news comes ahead of the busy holiday shopping season, the last three months of the year, crucial for retailers because they can make up to 40 percent of revenue during this period.

Macy's revenue at stores open at least a year rose 2.5 percent in September, while analysts expected a gain of 3.3 percent. But the company said the figure combined for August and September was up 3.6 percent, consistent with its expectations.

"We continue to feel good about the remainder of our fall season as we begin to ramp up receipts of fresh inventory for the cooler weather ahead," said CEO Terry Lundgren. Shares of Macy's rose 34 cents to $39.83.

Kohl's Corp.'s revenue at stores open at least a year fell 2.7 percent in September, a bigger drop than Wall Street expected, hurt by lower demand for accessories and women's clothing. Kohl's shares fell 92 cents to $51.33.

High-end department store operator Nordstrom Inc.'s sales in stores open at least one year rose 4.4 percent in September, also below analysts' expectations. The company said sales suffered in early September because returns increased because of the later start this year of the department store chain's big anniversary-sale event. Shares rose 21 cents to $56.09.

The strongest department store performer was Stage Stores Inc. On Monday, the discount retailer reported revenue in stores open at least one year rose 11.1 percent, far above the 2.7 percent analysts expected. The retailer credited the gain with strong back-to-school sales, which resulted in more full-price sales of fall goods. Shares rose 56 cents to $23.13.