Department store operator Nordstrom Inc. said Thursday that its profit rose 17 percent in the third quarter even though its costs were higher than expected as shoppers began spending more.
The company raised its 2009 profit outlook to a range of $1.83 to $1.88 per share from a previous estimate of $1.50 to $1.65 per share. But investors sent the shares lower in after-hours trading Thursday.
The revenue Nordstrom reported handily beat analysts' average forecast of $1.78 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. But its profit fell a penny short of the 39 cents per share analysts expected.
The Seattle company, which operates its namesake department stores and the Nordstrom Rack discount chain, said its fiscal third-quarter profit rose to $83 million, or 38 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Oct. 31. That compares with $71 million, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier.
Nordstrom said its fixed costs dropped from a year earlier, but it paid employees more in performance-related compensation than it expected because its sales were higher than expected.
Revenue rose 4 percent to $1.96 billion from $1.88 billion.
Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.2 percent for the quarter. That figure is considered a key measure of retailer performance because it compares a single list of stores and excludes those that open or close during the year.
For all of 2009, Nordstrom expects the figure to fall 6 percent or 7 percent.
Nordstrom shares fell $1.61, or more than 4 percent, to $32.90 in after-hours trading Thursday after closing at $34.51, down 35 cents from a day earlier.