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Macy’s Inc. (M - Analyst Report) – one of the leading department store retailers in the U.S. – posted both sluggish comparable-store sales as well as sales for the four-week period ended November 24, 2012.

Comparable-store sales inched down 0.7% year over year for the month of November, as the company witnessed soft sales during the month due to Superstorm Sandy, which more than offset the strong Thanksgiving sales. Total sales decreased 0.6% to $2,450 million compared with $2,464 million in the year-ago period.

Year-to-date, Macy’s sales augmented 3.2% to $20.8 billion compared with $20.1 billion in the comparable prior-year period, whereas comps also witnessed an elevation of 3.1%.

Online sales, which include sales from macys.com and bloomingdales.com, surged 39.2% in November 2012. On a year-to-date basis, online sales shot up 37.1% from the comparable year-ago period. The company remains on track to expand both Macy's and Bloomingdale's brands online.

Despite soft results, Macy’s stood by its earlier guidance and expects same-store sales to increase by 4.2% during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012. Moreover, the company expects earnings to be in the range of $1.94 to $1.99 per share.

Macy’s has been taking a number of initiatives in order to bolster its sales, profitability and cash flows. These steps include integration of operations, consolidation of divisions as well as developing e-commerce business and online order fulfillment centers.

We remain optimistic about the company’s customer-centric localization initiative called “My Macy’s.” The program aims at improving comparable-store sales and reducing operating expenses, with stores and merchandise assortments focusing on local customer needs and preferences.

Macy’s, which competes with J. C. Penney Company Inc. (JCP - Analyst Report), Dillard’s Inc. (DDS - Analyst Report) and Saks Incorporated , currently operates approximately 840 department stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Currently, we have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. However, Macy’s holds a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term Hold rating.

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