You've consistently read here that retail consumers are renewing their propensity to buy in 2009. Yesterday's same-store results represented the strongest evidence yet. Here is a list of 10 top retailers that essentially said, "Our Q1 was much stronger than we originally expected."
1. Wal-Mart(WMT) said U.S. monthly sales at stores open at least a year was up 5 percent. The average analyst estimate was for 2.9 percent increase. Demand was not just driven by necessity buying. The firm said strong sales were boosted by discretionary items such as entertainment and home goods. These indications dispel any notion that Wal-Mart is only doing well because spenders are stocking up on necessities. Since January Wal-Mart sales continue to skyrocket.
2. Target(TGT) also said its monthly sales rose in line with analysts' views. But for the whole quarter it now expects its profit to be "well above" the 52 cents per share consensus estimates. Those profits it said were driven by better than expected results at its stores throughout the quarter.
3. The Gap(GPS) also gave surprise profit guidance on Thursday. It plans a first-quarter profit of 29 cents to 30 cents per share, well above analysts' estimates of 24 cents.
4. BJ Wholesalers(BJ) also raised guidance. "Based on higher than expected merchandise sales and margins for the first three months of the fiscal year, the company now expects to report earnings per diluted share in the range of $0.41 to $0.45 for the first quarter. Previous guidance was in the range of $0.29 to $0.33 per diluted share."
5. J.C. Penney(JCP) raised its quarterly view for the third time in less than a month. The company now anticipates earnings for the first quarter to range between $0.09 and $0.11 per share. Analysts were estimating the company to earn only $0.02 per share.
6. Kohl's(KSS) also raised its quarterly forecast. Until Thursday analyst expected a $0.35 per share profit. The firm raised that outlook to $0.43 - $0.44 per share. CEO Kevin Mansell said, "Sales results for April exceeded our expectations. Childrens outperformed the Company from a line-of-business perspective and the Southwest was our strongest performing region."
7. The TJX Companies(TJX) (TJMaxx and Marshalls) reported sales for the month of April were up 1% from the same period last year. Their same store sales rose 3%. With above-plan sales in April following February and March sales which also exceeded plan, as well as strong merchandise margins, the firms said it now expects profit of $0.47-$0.49 per share up from their previous guidance of a $0.32-$0.38 range.
8. For drugstore chain Walgreens(WAG), "Most of us think the worst-case scenario we did in our planning is probably off the table," said Gregory Wasson, CEO. His firm posted a 5.7% increase April same-store sales.
Some of the best news on Thursday came from teen retailers:
9. Aeropostale(ARO), which has an aggressive discounting strategy, said its same-store sales rose 20% in April.
10. And Buckle(BKE) has now posted 21 consecutive months of double-digit same-store sales gains. The firm reported a 18.2% increase in sales for April.
In total, April sales rose an unexpected 1.2%, the biggest gain since last August. That compared to a gloomy analysts' forecast for a 0.2% decline.
This retail data combined with the ISM reports signals recovery clearly underway.
When all you read is gloom, turn here for a much different perspective.