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Nordstrom's Nov. Comps Disappoint

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November sales results for leading fashion retailer, Nordstrom Inc. (JWN - Analyst Report), were disappointing with comparable store sales (comps) declining 1.1% compared with the year-ago period. Comps for the company’s full-line segment were down 2.0%, while Nordstrom Rack recorded a comps increase of 4.3%.

For the four weeks ended November 24, 2012, total retail sales climbed 1.8% to $926 million from $910 million reported for the four-week period ended November 26, 2011.

During the month, the company witnessed poor sales in the first half of the month as the Half-yearly Sale for Women and Kids apparel was a letdown. Additionally, sales results for the month were impacted as stores remained closed in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions due to Hurricane Sandy. However, sales trends picked up in the second half of the month, returning to the recent historical levels.

Year-to-date through November 24, 2012, Nordstrom’s total retail sales elevated 10.4% to $9,092 million driven by a 6.7% increase in comparable store sales. During the period, the company’s comparable store sales at Nordstrom full-line and Nordstrom Rack segments augmented 7.0% and 7.2%, respectively.

Peer Performance

One of Nordstrom’s competitors, Gap Inc. (GPS - Analyst Report), registered a 3% rise in comparable store sales for the month of November, while net sales came in at $1.52 billion, up 3.4% compared with the prior-year period.

Geared up for More Stores

During November, Nordstrom successfully executed its plan of opening two Nordstrom Rack stores at Warwick Mall in Warwick, Rhode Island; and Northgate Mall in Seattle, Washington.

Going forward, the company is set to open one Nordstrom Rack store at River Ridge Shopping Center in Birmingham, Alabama in spring 2013. The company also plans to relocate its Nordstrom Rack store at Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles, California to Westfield Culver City in Culver City, California in fall 2013.

Our Recommendation

Based in Seattle, Washington, Nordstrom Inc. offers high quality apparel, shoes, cosmetics and accessories for men, women and kids. The company offers both branded and private label merchandise, as well as a private label card, two Nordstrom VISA credit cards and debit cards for Nordstrom purchases.

Nordstrom maintains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. Our long-term recommendation on the stock remains Neutral.

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