Shares of Cincinnati-based Macy's (NYSE:M) were off more than 4% in early Wednesday trading following an earnings release this morning that showed the department store owner earning $0.72 per diluted share and profits missing analyst targets by $0.06 per share.

Despite the miss, Macy's Q2 earnings represented 7.5% growth over last year's Q2. Q2 sales however, at $6.1 billion, declined a fraction of a percent. Gross margins slipped 10 basis points to 41.8%; operating profit margins shed 30 basis points, falling to 8.8%.

Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren lamented the Q2 performance as "softer than anticipated," and said in the company press release that he was disappointed with the results. However, Lundgren also noted that "on the positive side, we have seen a strengthening of the sales trend in key elements of women's ready-to-wear, a category which has lagged over the past couple of years. Bloomingdale's sales rebounded in the second quarter, and we are encouraged by our recent momentum."

Going forward, Macy's is predicting its same-store sales (comps) will grow between 2.5% and 4% in the second half of 2013. Full-year comps growth should exceed 2%. Full-year earnings are now estimated to be between $3.80 and $3.90 per diluted share -- $0.05 to $0.10 less than previously expected.

Macy's, which operates its namesake stores and Bloomingdales, is seen as a barometer of spending among middle- to upper-income shoppers. Macy's today said it was encouraged by its early read on the back-to-school season and said that it has been marking down prices after a cool spring and that shoppers are responding positively.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.