Nordstrom 1st quarter net income falls on weaker demand for spring goods

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Nordstrom Inc. said Thursday its first-quarter net income fell 3 per cent, hurt by weak demand for spring merchandise and softer performance in the Northeast and Midwest.

The results were below Wall Street estimates, a rare miss for the luxury retailer given that higher-end spenders have generally kept shopping in the lacklustre economy. The company’s stock fell more than 3 per cent in aftermarket trading.

Nordstrom said it had lower sales trends in seasonal products, as well as in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest during the first two months of the year. Results improved in April. Lower-than-planned sales were offset by tightened control over inventory and expenses.

“We remain positive about the balance of the year as we stay focused on our efforts to deliver the kind of customer experience across all channels that build loyalty and drive sales,” said CEO Blake Nordstrom in a conference call with analysts.

Nordstrom has been grappling with new demands from shoppers armed with smartphones and tablets. That’s pushing the department store, considered the gold standard in customer service, to make changes such as offering free shipping for online shoppers and rolling out mobile devices for its sales associates so they can check out shoppers anywhere in the store.

As it transitions to mobile devices, during the quarter Nordstrom removed some of the six cash registers traditionally at its lower-priced Rack stores to add 20,000 square feet worth of selling space to stores.

The Seattle-based retailer said net income fell to $145 million, or 73 cents per share. That compares with net income of $149 million, or 70 cents per share a year ago. Analysts expected net income of 76 cents per share.

Revenue rose 5 per cent to $2.75 billion. Analysts expected $2.81 billion.

Revenue in stores open at least one year rose 2.7 per cent. The measure is a key gauge of a retailer’s financial health because it excludes stores that have opened or closed during the year.

Top performing categories included makeup, women’s clothing and purses.

The company now expects full-year sales to rise 4 to 6 per cent from a prior range of 4.5 to 6.5 per cent. That implies revenue of $12.63 billion to $12.89 billion. Analysts expect $12.85 billion.

It reiterated full-year net-income guidance of $3.65 to $3.80 per share, however. Analysts expect $3.80 per share.

The company issued its results after the close of trading on Wall Street and its stock fell $1.98 to $59.15 in aftermarket dealings. It had ended the regular trading session day down 31 cents at $61.13. That’s still near the high end of the stock’s 52-week range of $46.27 to $61.81.