What happened 

Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN) shares were riding higher today in tandem with Macy's (NYSE:M), whose stock jumped after the company posted better-than-expected earnings. The market seems to be taking Macy's report as a good omen for Nordstrom, which reports earnings after the market closes today.

As of 2:57 p.m. EST, Nordstrom stock was up 5.5%, while Macy's shares were flying, up 11.1%.

A rendering of Nordstrom's upcoming Manhattan flagship store

Image source: Nordstrom.

So what 

Nordstrom's gains were a little surprising as fellow department-store chain Kohl's sold off after it posted earnings that were slightly below analyst estimates. Though department-store stocks have a tendency to travel as a herd, their performances often diverge from one another.

As for Macy's, the company actually said comparable sales fell 4% on an owned basis and 3.6% on a licensed one, but earnings were better than expected. Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) increased from $0.17 to $0.23, helped by gains in real estate, which beat estimates at $0.19.

Now what 

Nordstrom stock dropped last month as the founding family's attempt to take the company private fell apart, but the department-store chain is in a better position than its rivals as same-store sales have been increasing and it's built a strong e-commerce business. Analysts are expecting EPS of $0.64, down from $0.84, and a 1.4% increase in revenue of $3.59 billion when the company reports earnings this afternoon.

Jeremy Bowman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nordstrom. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.