Cato's September Comps Disappoint

Zacks

Charlotte, NC-based retailer of apparel and accessories for women, Cato Corporation (CATO) reported a 3% decline in comparable-store-sales (comps) for the 5-week period ended Oct 5, 2013. The company stated that comps for the month were within its projected range. Net sales for September rose 3% to $72.9 million from $71.1 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 September comps. The company’s trailing 9 months’ performance shows that comps had fallen every month, excepting for April and June, when it rose by 1% each.

On a year-to-date basis, Cato’s sales inched down 1% to $628.6 million compared with $637.5 million during the same time period in the prior year. Comps for the period slid 3% from the comparable year-ago period.

Apart from Cato, other store chain retailers that posted comparable-store sales data for the month of September include The Buckle Inc. (BKE), Stein Mart Inc. (SMRT) and Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ). While Stein Mart delivered comps growth of 5.0%, Buckle registered comps decline of 4.5% and comps for Zumiez were down 0.6%.

Despite weak monthly sales result, Cato expects its third-quarter fiscal 2013 earnings to be at the higher end of the previous provided guidance range of 2–9 cents per share versus earnings of 16 cents in the year-ago quarter. Currently, the Zacks Consensus Estimate stands at 6 cents per share.

In September, the company inaugurated 3 new outlets, 1 each in Southaven, Mississippi; Freemont, Nebraska; and San Angelo, Texas. As of Oct 5, 2013, Cato had 1,312 stores in 31 states. The company is expecting to release third-quarter fiscal 2013 results on Nov 21, 2013.

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