Kohl's Corp. department store chain reports its earnings for its fiscal third quarter on Thursday. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period.
OVERVIEW: Kohl's and other department store chains face a big challenge as shoppers keep spending low and worry about job security and tight credit. And while overall business is starting to improve as shoppers start to treat themselves a little, overall sales are still weak.
Kohl's has benefited from its expansion of strong exclusive brands like Dana Buchman and Simply Vera Vera Wang, as well as its focus on cutting costs. It has also benefited from the liquidations of competitors like Mervyns LLC.
Kohl's reported last week that sales in stores open at least one year, considered a key metric of retailers' performance, rose 1.4 percent in October; analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 6.2 percent increase.
But the chain boosted its third-quarter profit outlook because of lower inventory and cost cuts.
BY THE NUMBERS: Kohl's said last week it now expects third-quarter earnings of 60 cents to 61 cents per share, up from 52 cents to 54 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters now expect it to earn 61 cents per share on revenue of $4.03 billion. Kohl's earned 52 cents per share on revenue of $3.8 billion in the third quarter a year ago.
ANALYST TAKE: Richard Jaffe, retail analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, expects Kohl's to post earnings of 61 cents per share for the third quarter, noting tight expense control and improved inventory management. He noted that sales were helped as shoppers responded to attractive merchandise and promotions.
WHAT'S AHEAD: Analysts will listen for information on Kohl's assessment of early holiday sales and what is selling. They also will want to know the chain's discounting plans and more about how it is benefiting from the liquidations of rivals like Mervyns.
STOCK PERFORMANCE: Kohl's shares rose 14 percent during the quarter, which ended Oct. 31, and they soared 64 percent from the beginning of the year. The stock is up more than 70 percent from a year ago, closing at $56.97 on Monday, near the high end of its 52-week range of $24.28 and $60.89.