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Retail Sales During April Look Strong, Nomura Believes 'Results Begin to Chip Away At Fears'

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The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSE: XRT) is continuing about 1.6 percent higher Friday afternoon, extending Thursday's 0.6 percent gain. Traders in the space are responding to monthly retail sales figures, released over Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Given the frequent citing of weather by a plethora of companies throughout the winter months, investors have been anxious to get a reading on the consumer heading into the spring. As one of the most front-facing segments of the economy, the retail space is a great place to start.

Retail market research firm Redbook on Thursday said same-store sales in the US during April jumped 6 percent. This was the first positive monthly reading so far in 2014. In January, February and March of this year, Redbook showed US same-store sales declined 0.1 percent, 1.3 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Retail Metrics, another research firm in the retail group, also reported April same-store sales growth of 6 percent. The firm had been expecting growth of just 3.9 percent.

Some individual highlights from this week's data:

  • Gap (NYSE: GPS) - same-store sales up 9 percent, first-quarter earnings expected $0.56-$0.57/share vs $0.53/share;
  • Costco (NASDAQ: COST) - same-store sales up 5 percent
  • L Brands (NYSE: LB) - same-store sales up 8 percent, first-quarter EPS outlook raised from $0.44-$0.49 to $0.50-$0.52; and,
  • The Buckle (NYSE: BKE) - comps growth 0.8 percent.

A Nomura research report published Friday commented on retail optimism following better-than-expected April sales. According to the report, the Easter shift and improved weather are key reasons for the improvement. Nomura's Simeon Siegel expects additional optimism to continue.

Siegel adjusted estimates on ten retailers, including raises on:

  • Gap - FY14 EPS from $2.83 to $2.89;
  • L Brands - FY14 EPS from $3.18 to $3.31;
  • The Buckle - FY14 EPS from $3.42 to $3.43; and,
  • Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ: URBN) - FY14 from $1.99 to $2.02.

Next week on Tuesday, the US Census Bureau will offer retail sales figures for the month of April. Economists are currently expecting a 0.4 percent increase. Excluding both auto and gas data points, economists are expecting a 0.5 percent increase.

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