Macy's Inc. reports earnings for the third quarter on Wednesday before the stock market opens. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the department store chain during the period.
OVERVIEW: Department stores are facing big challenges as shoppers _ worried about job security and tight credit _ keep their focus on basics like food. While consumers are starting to spring for little indulgences like boots and home accessories, overall business remains weak.
Macy's, based in Cincinnati, has been shoring up profits with aggressive cost-cutting, including job cuts, lower capital spending and reduced contributions to employees' retirement funds. The moves followed Macy's announcement in January _ on the heels of the worst holiday season in decades _ that it would close 11 stores, affecting 960 employees.
Last year, it began rolling out a program to localize merchandising to regional markets.
The company has been expanding exclusive deals. Tommy Hilfiger women's and men's sportswear and children's wear is now sold only at Macy's and _ in the U.S. _ online and at Hilfiger's own stores.
Macy's said Thursday that sales at stores open at least one year, considered a key metric of retailers' performance, edged down 0.8 percent in October, virtually in line with a 0.1 percent drop that analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had predicted.
BY THE NUMBERS: Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect a loss of 7 cents per share on revenue of $5.2 billion for the quarter. The company earned 2 cents per share on revenue of $5.16 billion a year earlier.
ANALYST TAKE: Wayne Hood, BMO Capital Market analyst, on Friday raised his estimate for Macy's third-quarter results from a loss of 9 cents per share to a loss of 5 cents per share because its sales trends improved. He noted that Macy's furniture and home businesses performed well for the third month in a row and said moderate men's and women's apparel continued to do better than expected. Store-label merchandise and brands sold under exclusive deals like Martha Stewart and Tommy Hilfiger have yes, fared well.
WHAT'S AHEAD: Analysts will want to know how early holiday sales have gone, what the company plans for discounts on holiday goods the rest of the season and how the chain is defending its turf in Manhattan against competitor J.C. Penney Co. Penney opened its first Manhattan store a block from Macy's Herald Square flagship in July.
STOCK PERFORMANCE: Macy's shares rose 21 percent during the quarter, which ended Oct. 31. Shares have almost doubled since the beginning of the year and from a year ago. The stock closed at $19.18 Friday, the high point of its 52-week range of $5.07 to $20.84.