Cato's July Comps Declined


Charlotte, N.C.-based retailer of apparel and accessories for women, Cato Corporation (CATO) reported a 5% fall in comparable-store-sales (comps) for the 4-week period ended Aug 3, 2013. This compares unfavorably with comps decline of 2% for the 4-week period ended Jul 28, 2012. Net sales for July fell 3% to $61.6 million from $63.4 million reported in the year-ago period.

Of late, Cato’s comps have been plummeting, as its collections are failing to attract customers. Moreover, the company believes that the prevailing economic uncertainty and related volatility has negatively impacted its July comps. The company’s trailing 7 months’ performance shows that comps had fallen every month, excepting for April and June, when it rose by 1% each.

The company’s sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2013 ended on Aug 3, 2013 dropped 1% to $229.4 million from $231.5 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2012. During the quarter, comps declined 2%.

For the first 6 months of fiscal 2013, Cato’s sales dropped 2% to $496.6 million, compared with $504.2 million during the same time period in the prior year. Comps for the period slid 4% from the comparable year-ago period.

Recently, 3 other retailers, Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ), Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) and Stein Mart Inc. (SMRT) reported comparable-store sales increase of 0.8%, 4% and 3.7%, respectively for the month of July.

Despite weak quarterly sales result, Cato expects its second-quarter fiscal 2013 earnings to be at the higher end of the previous provided guidance range of 42–48 cents per share versus earnings of 59 cents in the year-ago quarter. Currently, the Zacks Consensus Estimate stands at 48 cents per share.

At the quarter-end, Cato had 1,306 stores in 31 states. The company is expecting to release full second-quarter fiscal 2013 results on Aug 22, 2013.

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