Hide & Seek Persists for Gap Comps


The positive-negative comparable store sales (comps) trend continues for the fashion retailer Gap Inc. (GPS) as it posted a 2% rise in comps for the four week period ended May 26, 2012 versus a 4% decline witnessed in the comparable prior-year period. The positive comps in May mainly ride on the favorable response that the company’s summer collection received from its customers. Year-to-date, comps increased 3% compared with a 3% decline posted in the year-ago comparable period.

Last month, Gap had registered a 2% decline in comps (four-week period ended April 28, 2012) against an 8% increase recorded in April 2011.

Net sales in May 2012 totaled $1.10 billion, up 4% compared with the prior-year period sales of $1.06 billion. Overall net sales in the five months of 2012 (17 weeks ended May 26, 2012) jumped 5% year over year to $4.59 billion.

Comps for the month of May 2012 remained positive at all of Gap’s segments, except Old Navy North.

May comps at Banana Republic North America spiked 8% in contrast to a 6% decline recorded in the prior-year period. Gap North America’s same-store sales were up 6% versus a 4% dip seen in the prior-year period. Results at its International segment rose 1% compared with a 9% decline in the prior-year period. However, same-store sales at Old Navy North America dipped 1%, flat compared with the year-ago period.

Gap is scheduled to release its June 2012 sales results on July 5, 2012.

On the same day, two other Apparel store retailers Ross Stores Inc. (ROST) and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) reported positive same-store sales for the month of May 2012. Comps growth at Ross was 8% in May, while Nordstrom recorded a 5.3% rise.

We believe that Gap’s long-term strategic moves along with disciplined cost management measures will not only provide financial flexibility, but will also help to drive value proposition. Moreover, Gap’s globally recognized brands complement one another, enabling it to leverage its position in the sector.

Currently, Gap’s shares maintain a Zacks #2 Rank, which translates into a short-term Buy rating. Our long-term recommendation on the stock remains Neutral.

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Read the Full Research Report on ROST

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