What's happening

Shares of upscale department-store chain Nordstrom (JWN -1.39%) were down again on Thursday as investors continued to digest disappointing holiday-season earnings and lackluster guidance for the year ahead.

As of 12:30 p.m. EST, Nordstrom's shares were trading down about 8% from Wednesday's closing price.

So what

Nordstrom's result for the quarter that ended on Jan. 31 wasn't a disaster, but it wasn't up to Wall Street's expectations. Adjusted earnings per share of $1.42 were down 4.1% from the year-ago period and short of Wall Street's consensus $1.48-per-share estimate.

A close-up of the Nordstrom name on a company store in Calgary, Alberta.

Image source: Nordstrom.

Net sales for the holiday quarter rose 1.3%, and digital sales growth was a promising 9%, with digital sales rising to 35% of total from 33% a year ago. But off-price storefronts drove much of the growth, such as it was, depressing margins.

Sales at Nordstrom's namesake full-price stores were up just 1% in the holiday quarter.

Now what

The company said that investors should expect a lackluster growth rate through the coming year. Its forecast calls for sales growth of between 1.5% and 2.5% for the year that will end Jan. 31, 2021. But it hopes to improve margins: It expects full-year profit to come in between $3.25 and $3.50 per share, up from $3.18 in 2019.