WISCONSIN, United States — Kohl’s Corp.’s turnaround is gaining steam just as a new leader takes the reins.
The shares rose as much as 6.2 percent in early trading Tuesday after the US department-store chain posted profit and same-store sales that topped analysts’ estimates, following mixed results from its peers. The retailer also raised its full-year earnings forecast, signaling optimism from new chief executive Michelle Gass, who took over last week.
Gass, previously the company’s chief merchandising officer, is looking to distance Kohl’s from other mall-based department stores. Rather than closing underperforming locations — a strategy adopted by Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Sears Holdings Corp. — Kohl’s has been touting the fact that its stores have remained open. It’s reformatting many into smaller venues and using them to test partnerships with companies like Amazon.com Inc. and Aldi supermarkets.
The shares rose as high as $69.55 in premarket trading. They had already gained 21 percent this year, through Monday’s close.
Excluding some items, Kohl’s profit amounted to 64 cents a share in the period that ended May 5. Analysts had projected 50 cents on average. On a same-store basis, Kohl’s sales grew 3.6 percent — surpassing the 2.7 percent increase predicted by analysts, according to Consensus Metrix.
Gass said managing the retailer’s inventory helped its gross margin — a measure of profitability — exceed the company’s expectations. The margin in the first quarter also topped analysts’ estimates. Kohl raised its forecast for full-year earnings per share to $5.05 to $5.50, up from a previous outlook of $4.95 to $5.45.
Last quarter’s results have been a mixed bag for the department-store industry. Macy’s Inc. cited strong consumer demand, but J.C. Penney Co. and Nordstrom Inc. underwhelmed investors with sales that missed projections. Both cited unseasonable weather as hurting demand for apparel.
Kohl’s is letting customers test out Amazon electronics in some locations, and it’s accepting returns from the e-commerce giant’s shoppers at select stores. Still, the effort only began in October and affects a small number of Kohl’s.
The partnership is being closely watched by investors. Since the launch of the pilot programme, traffic at participating Chicago Kohl’s stores has been about 8.5 percent higher than others, according to geolocation data analysed by Gordon Haskett Research Advisors. The hope is those customers stay and shop at Kohl’s stores.
By: Lindsey Rupp; Editors: Anne Riley Moffat, Lisa Wolfson, Cecile Daurat.