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Sector Snap: Storm may hurt retailers Feb. sales

NEW YORK (AP) -- An Citi Investment analyst said Monday that the blizzard that struck the Northeast over the weekend will likely hurt retailers' February sales, as the storm sharply reduced traffic.

The storm that slammed into the region between Friday and Saturday with up to 3 feet of snow was blamed for at least 15 deaths in the Northeast and Canada, and brought some of the highest accumulations ever recorded.

Oliver Chen of Citi Investment Research said in a client note that the retailers he covers have, on average, about 16 percent of their stores located in the blizzard-hit region. The analyst said those probably impacted the most include American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Urban Outfitters Inc. and TJX Cos.

Chen says store traffic was down as much as 80 percent to 90 percent in the areas the blizzard struck, and estimates that the winter storm will be an approximately 1 percent to 2 percent drag on February's results.

In afternoon trading, shares of American Eagle declined 16 cents to $20.18. Shares of Urban Outfitters rose 20 cents to $42.78 and TJX's stock dropped 22 cents to $45.46.

Still, the analyst seemed more concerned about accessory and jewelry companies. While these businesses don't have as many of their stores in the affected region as the retailers Chen covers, he said they are more reliant on February revenue due to Valentine's Day.

Chen said Coach Inc., Tiffany & Co. and Zale Corp. are among the companies that could be hurt, but he was particularly worried about Signet Jewelers Ltd. because 13 percent of its stores are in the region and it hosted its annual Valentine's Day sale this past weekend when the storm struck.

Coach's stock fell 15 cents to $48.78, while shares of Tiffany added 26 cents to $63.15. Zale's stock was steady at $4.92.