Retailers: Stock Prices Are the Problem, Not Sales

Even with the skeletal staffing in New York, comments are trickling in from analysts about the strong holiday season. Several companies have been mentioned multiple times this morning as notable winners: Abercrombie & Fitch, which appears to be continuing to win market share;

Ann Taylor and Limited also strong, as was Coach, Deckers (with strong Uggs sales), and Signet Jewelers, owner of Kay Jewelers, #1 jewelery seller in the U.S.

The problem isn't sales, it's the stock prices.

Big runups going into the close of the year have traders wondering how much more upside there is, particularly with comps tougher in 2011.

Retailers' results this year:

Abercrombie up 65%

Limited up 59%

Coach up 52%

Macy's up 48%

Tiffany up 48%

One other problem: despite retail standouts, the biggest guys—Home Depot , Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Lowe's and Target—are either not seeing the recovery yet or just beginning to see it. So, traders note, if the economy improves to where the needle moves among the giants, the midsize retailers will continue to see improvement as well.

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