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Cato's Comps Continue to Trend Down

Zacks Equity Research

Charlotte, N.C.-based retailer of apparel and accessories for women, Cato Corporation (CATO) reported a 2% fall in comps for the 4-week period ended Jun 1, 2013. This compares unfavorably with comps rise of 3% reported for the 4-week period ended May 26, 2012. Net sales for May fell 3% to $81.7 million from $84.3 million in the year-ago period.

Of late, Cato’s comps have been witnessing a downward trend with its collections failing to attract customers. The company’s trailing 5 months’ performance shows its comps to have persistently declined every month, with the exception of April when it rose 1%.

For the 17-week period ended Jun 1, 2013, Cato’s sales dropped 2% to $348.9 million compared with $357.1 million during the same time period ending May 26, 2012. Comps for the 17-week period in 2013 slipped 4% from the comparable year-ago period.

Concurrently, 3 other retailers – Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST), Gap Inc. (GPS) and L Brands Inc. (LTD) – reported same-store sales for the month of May. Comps growth at Costco, Gap and L Brands were 5%, 7% and 3%, respectively.

Last month, Cato posted disappointing first-quarter fiscal 2013 results with earnings falling 3.7% year over year to $1.05 per share. The company’s sales for the quarter dropped 2%, while comps decreased 5% year over year.

Consequently, the company lowered its earnings guidance for fiscal 2013 to $1.66–$1.84 per share from $1.64–$1.93 forecasted earlier. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fiscal year stands at $1.75 per share.

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