What Investors Need From Nordstrom Tomorrow


Tomorrow, Nordstrom will announce its first-quarter results. The company's stock has risen 20% over the past 12 months, just outpacing the S&P 500. Same-store sales were up last quarter and over the last year. Nordstrom has won my vote during this past year by seeming to actually focus on the consumer experience instead of just talking about consumers. The company announced some major focuses last year, and many of those items should show up in tomorrow's announcement. Here are the big things that investors should be on the lookout for.

Sales growth
In the company's last quarter, comparable sales were up 6.3%. That was driven largely by the 31% increase in the company's direct sales, which are built into the comparable sales figure. In turn, that growth has come from the company's focus on building up its online offering and back-end IT structure. According to Nordstrom, the first quarter should have a comparable increase of between 3.5% and 5.5%.

Given that the last quarter was so strong, and that the company hasn't had any major setbacks, the Street is a little more optimistic. The company has offered a full-year earnings-per-share range of $3.65 to $3.80, and analysts are expecting $3.80. For the first quarter, analysts are looking for $0.76 per share.

I'll be looking for comparable sales a little closer to 6%, especially since Macy's reported comparable sales close to its fourth-quarter figure this morning. First-quarter comparable sales were only a tenth of a point short of the company's fourth-quarter position, coming in at 3.8% as opposed to 3.9%. If Macy's can keep the pressure on, then Nordstrom needs to be able to do it as well.

Ongoing programs
Apart from the numbers, Nordstrom is also trying to make some changes in stores that will help customers shop more easily. Those changes include increased online shopping options and registers that can be moved around the store. Last quarter, the company noted that the installation of the mobile registers will have a small impact on selling space in the first quarter.

Finally, I'll be on the lookout to see if the company was able to continue the positive trend that it began in women's fashion. Last year, Nordstrom opened 14 Topshop locations to support its women's apparel business, and I'm hoping that the move will have helped comparable sales growth in this quarter.

Overall, I'm looking for a very solid start to the year for Nordstrom. While it doesn't need to be "blow me away" good, I'd be surprised to see many missteps. As a last note, while the impact is a while down the road, investors should also keep their ears open for plans on expanding in Canada, as Nordstrom is in a great place to take advantage of its strength by pushing further north.

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