Nordstrom Contends for the Upper Crust

High-end department-store operator Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN  ) has put together an impressive run of sales and earnings growth. Last evening's second-quarter results were no exception, and Nordstrom expects to end the year on a high note. This, coupled with a flagging stock price, could be music to the ears of potential investors.

Quarterly sales improved 5.2% as same-store sales jumped an impressive 5.9% on another successful "anniversary" sale, where especially fashion-conscious customers have the opportunity to buy merchandise before the fall selling season gets officially under way. Additionally, "half-yearly clearance events for women's, men's, and kids' merchandise in June delivered on-plan low-single-digit same-store sales," and Nordstrom saw particular strength in designer and men's apparel during the quarter.

On balance, Nordstrom was able to move higher-margin clothes and other products as gross margin improved slightly for the quarter. Higher selling, general, and administrative costs offset some of the sales gains, but share buybacks contributed to an earnings increase of 6%, to $0.71, which beat analyst projections by a penny.

Sales trends and comps are currently running ahead of plan and were likely a key reason management upped its full-year expectations. It's now calling for earnings of $2.91-$2.97, thanks in part to 5%-6% comps, higher gross profit, and lower other expenses for the year. It also plans to complete the sale of its Faconnable designer business next quarter and report a gain of up to a dime once the transaction closes.

Nordstrom's upper-crust focus puts it in direct competition with the likes of privately held Neiman Marcus, Saks (NYSE: SKS  ) , Macy's (NYSE: M  ) Bloomingdales franchise, and soon-to-be-sold Barneys, which is currently owned by Jones Apparel (NYSE: JNY  ) . The space is definitely crowded, but Nordstrom continued to prove it is a leading snob after reporting another solid quarter. The future looks equally bright as there are now only 98 namesake stores throughout the country. Management plans to open three new stores during the third quarter, continuing a trend of slow but steady growth.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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