Last week, I posed a question about Coldwater Creek
Not only did the retailer reduce its fourth-quarter guidance, it now expects a loss of $0.16 to $0.20 per share, compared to its previous guidance for a breakeven quarter. It also revealed it expects same-store sales for the quarter to be down in the middle to high teens. Comparable-store traffic has remained in the high-single-digit range.
As cold as it is, I'm not shocked. Last week, I ran across an SEC filing that said Coldwater Creek was laying off some employees, mostly at its headquarters. The disclosure pointed to only 65 jobs, but I didn't take it as a bullish sign the retailer is turning things around. Today's tidings supported that concern; the stock was down nearly 27% at my last check.
It's true, economic data today confirms that consumers weren't shopping much in December. However, there were still a few winners out there. For example, teen retailer Aeropostale
On the other hand, Ann Taylor
For now, stocks in Coldwater's niche might look cheaper and cheaper given the significant drops in their stock prices over the last year or so, but investors should be cautious until there are more heartening signs. These retailers have their work cut out for them; macroeconomic concerns show it's not just a matter of the right merchandise, it's also a matter of consumers feeling comfortable spending again, too.
Investing in retailers that don't understand the needs of their core customers, compounded with a consumer slowdown that's felt keenly by that market demographic, could be disastrous in 2008.
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