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Promotions Drive Nordstrom Comps

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December comparable store sales (comps) for leading fashion retailer, Nordstrom Inc. (JWN - Free Report) , surpassed analyst projections driven by increased promotions toward the end of the month to attract last-minute Christmas shoppers.

Comparable-store sales increased 8.6% for the five-weeks ended December 29, 2012, compared with the year-ago period. Comps for the company’s full-line segment were up 8.2%, while comps at Nordstrom Rack recorded an increase of 8.1%. Total retail sales for the month climbed 9.4% to $1,719 million from $1,571 million reported for the five-week period ended December 31, 2011.

During the month, the company witnessed robust sales for children's and women's clothing and handbags categories. On the regional front, Midwest and South witnessed superior sales outcome.

Quarter-to-date performance at Nordstrom also remained strong with comps increasing 5.1% compared to the year-ago period. The comps improvement was driven by a 4.6% gain at the full-line stores as well as a 6.5% increase at Nordstrom Rack stores. Total retail sales grew 6.6% to $2,645 million.

Year-to-date, Nordstrom’s total retail sales elevated 10.2% to $10,811 million driven by a 7.0% increase in comparable store sales. During the period, the company’s comparable store sales at Nordstrom full-line and Nordstrom Rack segments augmented 7.2% and 7.3%, respectively.

Peer Performance

One of Nordstrom’s competitors, Gap Inc. (GPS), registered a 5% rise in comparable store sales for the month of December, while net sales came in at $2.08 billion, up 5.0% compared with the prior-year period.

Geared Up for More Stores

During December, Nordstrom laid down plans to inaugurate two full-line stores in 2015, including a new store at Mayfair in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, by fall season and a relocated store at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, California, replacing the company’s existing store at South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach, California.

Further, the company eyes to open three Nordstrom Rack stores in spring 2013, at Columbia Crossing in Columbia, Maryland, in downtown Washington D.C. and at Maine Crossing in South Portland, Maine.

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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