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Most retailers announced April same-store sales Thursday. According to Thomson Financial, 79% of them missed expectations. We'll start with the winners:

  • Costco same-store sales rose 7% vs. analyst estimates of 6.3%. U.S. sales were up 6% while international sales gained 10%. Total sales rose 12% to $4.94 billion. The company said the month's one extra day gave sales a 2% lift.
  • Saks Inc. sales at stores open one year jumped 11.7%, vs. estimates of 6.7%. Total sales gained 13.1% to $281 million. The company said almost all its merchandise performed well.
  • Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. same-store sales jumped 7.3%, vs. a projected gain of 0.7%.
  • Nordstrom Inc. same-store sales rose 3.1%, vs. analyst estimates of an 4.2% gain. Total sales were up from $585 million to $604 million.
  • WalMart Inc. same-store sales dropped 3.5% in April, vs. analyst estimates of a 1.1% drop. Total sales rose from $25.63 billion to $26.57 billion. Sam's Club same-store sales gained 2.5%, in-line with analyst estimates. Net of Sam's Club gains, WalMart same-store sales actually fell 4.6% for the month. The company said cold weather hurt sales. It sees 1-2% gains in May.
  • Gap same-store sales fell 16%, vs. analyst estimates of -7.1%. Total sales fell 11% to $1.09b. The company said merchandise margins were down because of clearance selling at Gap stores. It forecast Q1 EPS of $0.23-0.25; analysts had been calling for $0.24.
  • Target Corp. same-store sales fell 6.1%. Net sales fell 1.8% to $3.9b. It said it still sees EPS on the year on target at $3.60.
  • Limited Brands Inc. same-store sales dropped 1%, vs. estimates of a 0.6% drop. Total sales climbed from $653m to $688m.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch same-store sales fell 15%, vs. estimates of 4.7%. It forecast Q1 EPS of $0.64-0.65, saying, ""Despite difficult selling conditions, the company expects to achieve its projected growth primarily through prudent expense management."
  • Federated Department Stores same-store sales fell 2.2%, vs. consensus estimates of a 1.7% gain and its own forecast of 2.5-4%. Total sales fell 2.1% to $1.84 billion.
  • J.C. Penney Company Inc. sales at department stores open at least one year fell 4.7%, vs. analyst estimates of a 0.8% drop. Total sales dropped 2.7% to $1.13 billion. The company said apparel did comparatively well, while big ticket items were soft. It expects flat same-store sales for May.
  • Kohl's Corp. same-store sales fell 10.5% vs. an expected 6.6% drop. Total sales were up 11.8%. The company is comfortable with current EPS estimates of $0.62.
  • Pacific Sunwear same-store sales fell 16.5%, vs. analyst expectations of a 6.5% loss. Total sales fell to $79 million from $85 million. The company forecasts a Q1 EPS loss of $0.04-0.05, and a Q2 EPS loss of $0.18-0.20.
  • Bebe Stores Inc. same-store sales fell 6.5% vs. analyst estimates of -6.2%.
  • Claire's Stores Inc. sales at stores open at least one year fell 6%, vs. analyst estimates of a 2% drop. Total sales rose 1% to $105 million.
  • American Eagle Outfitters Inc. sales at stores open over one year dropped 10%, vs. analyst estimates of a 1.3% gain. It reiterated Q1 EPS forecasts of $0.34-0.35.
  • Sharper Image Corp. same-store sales fell 11%. Total sales tumbled 36% to $21 million. It is the company's 30th straight month in decline.
  • Aeropostale Inc. same-store sales fell 14%, vs. estimates of -2.5%. Net sales dropped 9.8% to $75m. The company boosted Q1 EPS forecasts to $0.24-0.25, up from $0.22-0.23.
  • Bon-Ton Stores same-store sales dropped 13.4%, vs. estimates of a 9.3% decrease. Total sales fell 13.7% to $212 million. The company called April's numbers 'disappointing,' especially for clothing.
  • AnnTaylor Stores sales at stores open at least a year fell 12.8%, vs. consensus estimates of 4% drop. Net sales dropped 6.2% to $200 million. The company reaffirmed full-year guidance of $2.15-2.25/share.
  • Family Dollar Stores same-store sales were down 4.9%, vs. estimates of -4%. Total sales fell 1.6% to $481 million. Sales of home products were up, while apparel and seasonals were soft.
  • Fred's Inc. same-store sales fell 2.5%, vs. estimates of a 0.4% gain. Total sales gained 1% to $127 million. The company said April sales were hurt by an early Easter, high gas prices, and cold weather.
  • Stein Mart Inc. same-store sales dropped 13.9%, vs. estimates of a 3.7% drop. Total sales fell from $124 million to $109 million. The company revised Q1 EPS estimates down to $0.17; analysts had been looking for $0.22.
  • BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. same-store sales fell 2.1%, vs. estimates of a 0.9% gain. Net sales were up 1.9% to $618 million.
  • Chico's FAS Inc. same-store sales fell 7.3%, vs. -0.6% anticipated.

Noting the "rampant misses and lowered earnings," Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Adrienne Tennant said April will mostly be a 'throw-away month:' "We believe investors will give retailers the proverbial free pass." Retailers blamed mitigating factors like weather, gas prices, and an early Easter. But analyst Jennifer Black says there's more to it: "The overall product assortment was not compelling... Fashion trends continue to have had a mixed response with no real trend focus."

Stocks/ETFs to watch: Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (NASDAQ:PSUN), bebe stores inc. (NASDAQ:BEBE), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN), Claire's Stores Inc. (CLE), Limited Brands Inc. (LTD), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST), Saks Inc. (NYSE:SKS), American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEOS), Sharper Image Corp. (SHRP), J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE:JCP), Federated Department Stores Inc. (FD), Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF), Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE:ARO), Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:BONT), Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT), Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS), AnnTaylor Stores Corp. (NYSE:ANN), Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE:FDO), Fred's Inc. (NASDAQ:FRED), Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ:SMRT), BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. (NYSE:BJ), Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. (NASDAQ:JOSB), Chico's FAS Inc. (NYSE:CHS)

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