Citi Analyst Turns Bullish On Two Dept. Stores

Investors are holding their breath ahead of same-store sales figures, most of which are due Thursday. What’s the trade?

Though sales may be slightly better than they were in January, investors are bracing for a stormy set of numbers from a wide range of stores including Macy's, The Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch.

"The macro headwinds that consumers and retailers are facing right now are so stiff that we feel there are still more negative comps to come as we progress through the first half of this year," says Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins.

For February, apparel retailers are expected to post an 8.6 percent same-store sales decline, while department stores face a 10.1 percent drop, according to Thomson Reuters Estimates.

Although those numbers reflect the overall consensus at least one analyst takes a much more optimistic view. We wanted to hear more so we invited Citigroup retail analyst Deborah Weinswig to be our guest on Fast Money.

Weinswig, who’s one of the most followed analysts on the Street, says she thinks some department stores will likely report stronger-than-expected results.

She tells us, “Since November we’ve seen almost a bottoming in retail. December was better than November, then January was better than December and February should be better yet. It seems that things have stabilized, somewhat.”

As a result one stock to watch is Nordstrom . “While their sales haven’t been phenomenal their sales have outperformed the rest of the group.”

She also says JC Penney looks poised to perform well for the rest of 2009 because they could benefit from so many other stores closing in the malls where they’re anchored.

And it's worth noting Weinswig has weather on her side. Mild temperatures and new spring merchandise in stores may have helped sales a bit in February. It was the warmest February since 2005, according to weather tracking firm Planalytics

While February is usually not a key month for retail analysis given fewer days and its place between the post-holiday and early spring shopping periods, this year the month could show how willing shoppers are to spend even without the motivation of gift-giving.

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