Retail Sales Inconsistent in December

U.S. retailers had varied reports of sales in December. Retailers missing estimates cited warmer weather affecting winter goods sales, setbacks in television sales, and lower demand for the traditional holiday items such as electronics, music, movies and books. The stores which missed estimates include Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Target Corp (NYSE:TGT), Bon-Ton (NASDAQ:BONT), Stage Stores (NYSE:SSI) and Gap (NYSE:GPS).

“We expected December to be highly promotional, and while we competed aggressively across our brands, our performance was below our expectations,” said Gap chief executive Glenn Murphy.

“Cold-weather categories, which are highly profitable and represent approximately 25 percent of our business in December, were down mid-teens on a percentage basis,” said Tony Buccina, Bon-Ton’s vice chairman, president – merchandising.

Stores that bucked the trend were Macy’s (NYSE:M), Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD) riding on a sales surge at Victoria’s Secret, teen retailer Zumiez Inc (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) and Buckle Inc., which reported sales improving between 6 to 10 percent.

On the other hand the consumer is still stubbornly cost-conscious and promotions appear to be the key to boost flagging sales. “The promotional business environment experienced on Black Friday continued throughout December as consumers remained motivated by value,” said Stage Stores Chief Executive Andy Hall. “While our December average unit retail was up 2.3 percent, it was not enough to offset cost inflation, and therefore will pressure our fourth quarter gross margin rate.”

Here’s are the retail stocks are reacting to the sales news today:

Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT): TGT shares recently traded at $48.33, down $1.67, or 3.34%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $45.28 to $56.44. Volume today was 13,669,895 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 5,936,550 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 11.25, while trailing earnings are $4.30 per share.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:BONT): BONT shares recently traded at $2.98, down $0.19, or 5.99%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $2.23 to $17.49. Volume today was 286,169 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 277,044 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-0.38 per share.

Stage Stores Inc. (NYSE:SSI): SSI shares recently traded at $13.46, down $0.56, or 3.99%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $11.21 to $19.97. Volume today was 198,594 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 316,238 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.47, while trailing earnings are $0.87 per share.

Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST): COST shares recently traded at $82.48, down $1.59, or 1.89%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $69.54 to $88.68. Volume today was 2,158,350 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 2,447,060 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 24.83, while trailing earnings are $3.32 per share.

Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS): GPS shares recently traded at $18.25, down $0.63, or 3.34%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $15.08 to $23.73. Volume today was 6,752,160 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 5,345,310 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 10.50, while trailing earnings are $1.74 per share.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT): WMT shares recently traded at $59.23, down $0.48, or 0.8%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $48.31 to $61.06. Volume today was 7,951,722 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 10,676,300 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 12.54, while trailing earnings are $4.72 per share.

Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT): TGT shares recently traded at $48.33, down $1.67, or 3.34%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $45.28 to $56.44. Volume today was 13,669,895 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 5,936,550 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 11.25, while trailing earnings are $4.30 per share.

Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M): M shares recently traded at $33.44, up $0.79, or 2.42%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $21.69 to $33.26. Volume today was 7,073,526 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 7,764,860 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 12.26, while trailing earnings are $2.73 per share.

Limited Brands, Inc. (NYSE:LTD): LTD shares recently traded at $39.26, down $0.4, or 1.01%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $28.05 to $45.45. Volume today was 3,956,479 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 3,242,420 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 13.34, while trailing earnings are $2.94 per share.

Zumiez, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZUMZ): ZUMZ shares recently traded at $30.23, up $3.9, or 14.81%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $15.85 to $30.90. Volume today was 1,973,187 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 503,387 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 27.84, while trailing earnings are $1.09 per share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brooke Edge at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com