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Fitch upgrades Macy's credit ratings

NEW YORK (AP) -- Credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings on Tuesday upgraded some of its credit ratings on department store operator Macy's Inc. due to its strong revenue trends, improving credit metrics and increasing command of its market.

Fitch said that performance has brought the company's debt-to-earnings ratio below pre-recession levels.

The firm upgraded its long-term issuer-default rating for Macy's Inc. one notch to "BBB." Its previous rating was the lowest possible at investment grade. The outlook is stable.

"Macy's is particularly well-positioned in the mid-tier department store space, which has seen a lot of consolidation over the last decade," Fitch said in a statement.

The ratings increase follows a similar ratings upgrade by Standard & Poor's Ratings Service in April.

During the recession, Macy's Inc. was hit hard by consumers trading down to cheaper stores, but it has rebounded and has been outperforming mid-price rivals, including Kohl's Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. The Cincinnati-based company also operates the high-end Bloomingdale's chain.

Macy's said in February that its fourth-quarter net income rose 12 percent to $745 million and its revenue rose 6 percent to $8.72 billion. In April, it said its March sales at stores open at least a year rose 7.3 percent from March 2011, soaring well past analysts' average prediction for 4.8 percent.

Macy's shares rose 43 cents by early Tuesday afternoon to $41.45. That's 29 percent higher than where they started the year. In the past 52 weeks, they've traded as low as $22.66.