The retail sector is entering the final holiday stretch is "fairly upbeat" anc consistent with industry forecasts, according to MKM Partners.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT, Five Below Inc FIVE and Dollar Tree, Inc. DLTR are standouts, said analyst Patrick McKeever.
Sales continue to shift online at an accelerated pace, with e-commerce growing in the mid- to high-teens, and traditional retailers are faring well in a buoyant economy, McKeever said. (See the analyst's track record here.)
Retailers could benefit more from the tax bill than any other sector, given their limited international exposure and high tax rates, McKeever said. And they're hoping to attract much of the savings consumers receive from a 2018 tax cut, the analyst said.
Retail Winners, Losers From Tax Reform
DSW Inc. DSW and Hibbett Sports, Inc. HIBB, with their high effective tax rates of 39 percent and 38 percent, respectively, and debt-free balance sheet, could see the biggest earnings per share lift, McKeever said.
On the downside, MKM expects companies with lower tax rates such as Cato Corp CATO, Citi Trends, Inc. CTRN and Target Corporation TGT to benefit less. The unprofitable Wayfair Inc W could see minimal to no near-term impact, McKeever said.
Five Below Sees Best Traffic
MKM Partners said Five Below had by far sen the best same-store sales of any of its covered names in the third quarter, with comps rising 8.5 percent and traffic by 7.1 percent. Taking a conservative stance, MKM estimates a 5-percent same-store sales increase in the fourth quarter.
Five Below has broad-based strength in its merchandise categories, McKeever said.
Walmart's Good Look
Walmart's strength is attributable to a strong macro and its wide reach, with 3,550-plus U.S. supercenters, McKeever said. Investments in training and wages, though hurting margins, have contributed to cleaner stocks, higher in-stock levels, better customer service and a faster check-out process, the analyst said.
MKM sees upside to its 1.9-percent growth forecast for U.S. same-store sales.
Dollar Tree: Holiday Standout
Dollar Tree's holiday quarter is a "standout," McKeever said, with "consistenyly long lines at multiple cash registers, good sell-down of Christmas trim-a-tree, gift wrap and bags, candy, etc."
The company's Family Dollar unit, though faring better than last year, is still lagging, the analyst said.
The Rest Of The Pack
- Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc OLLI and Target are designated by MKM as runners-up.
- Kohl's Corporation KSS sees uneven traffic, although it is expected to see an in-line 1-percent comp increase for the fourth quarter.
- Cato, Big Lots, Inc. BIG and Dicks Sporting Goods Inc DKS are experiencing light traffic.
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