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Why These Upscale Retail Stocks Were Rising on Friday

By John Rosevear - Apr 17, 2020 at 3:20PM

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Investors in Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, and Urban Outfitters had a good day.

What happened

Shares of some upscale retail and apparel chains were rising on Friday, as news about a potential treatment for the COVID-19 virus set off a broad-based market rally.

Here's where things stood as of 2:45 p.m. EDT for these three companies' stocks, relative to their closing prices on Thursday. 

  • Nordstrom (JWN 5.42%) was up 8.5%
  • Ralph Lauren (RL 3.24%) was up 6.7%
  • Urban Outfitters (URBN 6.21%) was up 8.8%

So what

News that a trial of a potential treatment for the COVID-19 virus has shown signs of success appeared to be the trigger for a broad-based market rally on Friday. Anything that might hasten the reopening of these three companies' brick-and-mortar stores would be a bullish signal, so it's no surprise that Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, and Urban Outfitters all rallied on Friday afternoon.

A Nordstrom sign on the outside of a currently-closed store.

Image source: Nordstrom.

That might be the whole story. But you, dear reader, clicked on this article hoping for a more substantive update, and I don't want you to be disappointed. Here are the most recent developments for each company.

  • In a regulatory filing after the market closed on Thursday, Nordstrom said it has completed a secured debt offering, raising $600 million in additional cash to bolster its balance sheet. The company announced the debt offering last week: It's a series of notes that pay 8.75% interest that are due in 2025 and are secured by a pool of real estate assets, including several Nordstrom stores and its corporate headquarters. In addition, Nordstrom said that its existing $800 million line of credit has been amended: It will be secured by the company's inventory if certain leverage thresholds are exceeded or if the company's credit rating drops below investment grade. 
  • Ralph Lauren's last update was on April 8, when it said that its retail employees would be furloughed as of April 11 and announced a series of moves (including executive pay cuts) intended to conserve cash. The company has yet to announce any additional financing moves but may be in better shape than many rivals. Its retail stores in China and South Korea, and the fulfillment centers for its online storefronts, have all reopened following virus-related shutdowns. 
  • Urban Outfitters' most recent update was on April 1, when it said that it has closed all of its stores around the world, furloughed many employees for 60 days, and borrowed $220 million to bolster its balance sheet. It also said that it has begun making a series of cost cuts to ensure that its cash will last as long as possible -- including a decision not to pay rent to its stores' landlords for the time being. The company's stores have been closed since March 14; it paid its store employees through the end of March.

Now what

Retail-focused investors will have to wait a few more weeks for updates from the management teams at each of these three companies when they report earnings next month. Urban Outfitters will report its fiscal 2021 first-quarter results on May 19. Nordstrom and Ralph Lauren haven't yet announced dates for their next quarterly reports, but both typically report in the second half of May. 

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Stocks Mentioned

Nordstrom, Inc. Stock Quote
Nordstrom, Inc.
$24.29 (5.42%) $1.25
Urban Outfitters, Inc. Stock Quote
Urban Outfitters, Inc.
$21.03 (6.21%) $1.23
Ralph Lauren Corporation Stock Quote
Ralph Lauren Corporation
$96.35 (3.24%) $3.02

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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