Although Macy's (NYSE:M) may be facing considerable losses, investors were cheered by a preliminary earnings report published by the troubled retailer on Thursday.

The company expects to post net sales between $3 billion and $3.03 billion for its first quarter of fiscal 2020, down considerably from the just over $5.5 billion in the same quarter of 2019. The company's operating result is forecast to experience a dramatic flip into the red, with the loss coming in between $905 million to $1.11 billion; the Q1 2019 result was a profit of $203 million.

Macy's total debt may also be worse. It's anticipated to grow to almost $5.66 billion in the quarter, compared to the year-ago amount of $4.72 billion.

Macy's flagship store in New York City.

Image source: Macy's.

On the plus side, cash and equivalents at Macy's disposal are expected to more than double. They should tally a bit over $1.52 billion, from the year-ago level of $737 million.

The company is slated to release its official Q1 results on July 1.

Although Macy's has struggled with the so-called retail apocalypse of the past few years, its top challenge during the quarter was undoubtedly the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak. It closed all of its retail outlets on March 18. According to the company, this had a "significant" effect on the quarterly results.

Earlier this month, however, Macy's began tentatively reopening its stores. The company says demand since then has been "moderately higher" than it expected.

Perhaps that's why investors bid up shares of the retailer on Thursday. In contrast to the declines suffered by the wider equities market, the retailer's shares advanced by 5.9% on the day. 

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