What happened

Shares of Macy's (NYSE:M) were trading higher on Thursday after the company released preliminary earnings results and updated investors on its ongoing store-reopening effort. 

As of 2 p.m. EDT today, Macy's shares were up about 6% from Wednesday's closing price. 

So what

At first glance, Macy's preliminary earnings for the quarter that ended on May 2 were nothing for retail-stock investors to cheer about. The company, which has postponed its full earnings report for the quarter until July 1, said that it expects to report an operating loss between $905 million and $1.11 billion, on revenue between $3 billion and $3.03 billion. Macy's reported operating income of $203 million on revenue of $5.5 billion in the year-ago period. 

The latest results are a miss, at least on the top line: Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected Macy's to report revenue of $3.29 billion for its fiscal first quarter. Also of concern: Macy's estimates that it ended the quarter with $1.52 billion in cash versus $5.66 billion in debt.

A Macy's sign on the outside of a store.

Macy's began reopening its stores on May 4. Image source: Macy's.

But the view ahead is brighter, and that's probably why Macy's shares are rising today. 

CEO Jeff Gennette said that before the COVID-19 outbreak forced it to close its stores on March 18, the company had been performing in line with expectations. Online sales grew steadily through April (though not enough to offset lost sales at stores), the company began reopening its physical stores on May 4, and demand at reopened stores has been "moderately higher" than anticipated, he said. 

Now what 

Gennette said that about 190 Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores are fully open as of today, with another 80 Macy's locations set to open this coming weekend. He expects most of the company's stores to be reopened by late June, ahead of the company's full earnings report on July 1.