Major benchmarks rebounded on Thursday, as tech stocks rallied and investors put global trade tensions on the back burner.
L Brands goes on sale
Shares of L Brands fell 12.1% after the parent company of chains including Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works announced disappointing monthly sales growth.
L Brands revealed that net sales had climbed 5.7% year over year, to $1.282 billion, for the five weeks ended July 7, 2018, slowing from 10% growth last month. Within that total, comparable-store sales climbed roughly 3%, again marking a deceleration from last month's 5% increase.
During a subsequent conference call, L Brands management blamed a "soft start with negative traffic levels" during Victoria's Secret's highly anticipated semiannual sale. As a result, the company opted to further reduce prices and extend the sale by two weeks to clear inventory -- a move investors will almost certainly see reflected in the company's next quarterly report in August.
Has Netflix climbed too high?
Netflix stock lost nearly 3% early in the session, then partially recovered to close down 1.2% in the wake of UBS analyst Eric Sheridan downgrading his firm's rating on the streaming-media leader from buy to neutral. He also curiously increased his price target on Netflix stock to $425 from $375, representing a modest premium from yesterday's closing price at around $419 per share.
To justify his call, Sheridan admitted while Netflix's content and technology leadership will likely "drive a virtuous circle of greater [subscribers] and increased viewing time," he worries that these strengths are "all priced in," making the stock a "less compelling" option for investors looking to put money to work today.
Still, with shares still up around 160% over the past year as of this writing, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find investors willing to complain about Wall Street's tempered enthusiasm.
Cato goes out of style
Finally, shares of Cato fell 13.5% following the women's fashion and accessories retailer's announcement of dissatisfying monthly sales results. For the five weeks ended July 7, 2018, Cato's sales fell 2.4% year over year to $72.9 million, as roughly flat same-store sales couldn't offset a small number of store closures over the past year.
Company chairman and CEO John Cato simply stated the results arrived "slightly below" expectations. Similar to L Brands' aforementioned slowdown, Cato's flat comps also marked a notable deceleration from 9% same-store sales growth in May -- a much better-than-expected result the company attributed at the time to "pent up demand" as weather began to improve throughout the month.
With shares up around 45% over the past year going into yesterday's close, it should come as no surprise to see Cato stock pulling back today.