Retailers Crash as Unsold Merchandise Piles Up: Earnings This Week

Retailers Crash as Unsold Merchandise Piles Up: Earnings This Week

Retail earnings are off to a bearish start as unsold merchandise piles up and shopping centers go quiet.

Macy’s (M) started things on a bearish foot yesterday. Not only did profit, revenue and guidance miss estimates. The tone of its release was also dismal:

“Rising inventory levels became a challenge based on a combination of factors,” CEO Jeff Gennette confessed in the statement. He went on to detail “a fashion miss in our key women’s sportswear private brands, slow sell-through of warm weather apparel and the accelerated decline in international tourism.”

Tapestry (TPR), parent of brands like Coach and Kate Spade, followed with an even-worse drop this morning. While management cited progress integrating its businesses and growing overseas, the company failed to hit key sales targets and cut forward guidance. TPR cratered to its lowest price this decade.

Tapestry (TPR) chart with 50- and 200-day moving averages.
Tapestry (TPR) chart with 50- and 200-day moving averages.

News like that cast a pall across other brick-and-mortar names like Kohl’s (KSS), Nordstrom (JWN) and L Brands (LB). The prospect of price cuts for unsold items dragged each of those stocks down by double-digits before their reports next week.

But then Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) beat across the board and raised guidance. The discount giant has drawn foot traffic and taken market share at the same time other retailers are losing both. Its e-commerce business also surged thanks to grocery deliveries.

Trade War Hits Cisco

Technology giant Cisco Systems (CSCO) suffered amid President Trump’s trade war. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) member’s backward-looking results were good enough, but forward guidance was 1-2 cents below consensus. CEO Chuck Robbins cited a “significant impact” to sales in China and warned of new “macro shifts.” That sounds like a euphemism for “slowing economic growth.”

Ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies (UBER) also lost more than $5 billion in the second quarter. Its per-share loss of $4.72 a share was much wider than the $3.12 number expected by analysts. Revenue missed by almost $200 million. That sent UBER skidding down more than 20 percent in the last week to its lowest price since going public in May.

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) chart with 50- and 200-day moving averages.
Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) chart with 50- and 200-day moving averages.

DCX Technology (DXC) fell even more than CSCO or UBER. The IT consultancy lost about two-fifths of its value in the last week after cutting guidance and missing on sales. Analysts blamed a toxic miss of client attrition and negative currency moves. If you haven’t heard of DXC, it’s the combination of the businesses from the old Computer Sciences and Hewlett Packard.

News Corp. Rallies

News Corp. (NWSA), parent of outlets like The Wall Street Journal and, was among a handful of winners in the last week. The publishing company rallied 6 percent after strong digital subscriptions pushed earnings ahead of expectations. Management is also working to re-establish NWSA with investors after some complex transactions with Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA).

Agilent Technologies (A) jumped after beating across the board and raising guidance. The medical-device provider is in one of the few market niches so far immune to trade wars, a weak economy or political risk.

Sysco (SYY), the food company, also railed on strong profit, despite revenue missing. Electricity company Evergy (EVRG) was another relatively obscure winner in the last week, up more than 3 percent on strong earnings. Remember utilities like EVRG and consumer staples like SYY tend to benefit when interest rates are crashinglike they are now.

JD.Com Jumps

Two Chinese stocks moved in opposite directions. (JD) had its biggest rally in over five years after beating estimates for the second straight quarter. JD not only grabbed more business than expected. The e-commerce company also grew its advertising, merchant base and logistics operations. It was JD’s second strong quarter as the company tries to fight back from a leadership crisis last year.

Luckin Coffee (LK), on the other hand, missed earnings estimates in its first report as a public company. LK is trying to compete with Starbucks (SBUX) in China. It declined about 15 percent on the news.

Tilray (TLRY) was another loser. The former-high flying cannabis stock dropped about 20 percent after losing more money than expected.

In conclusion earnings season is almost finished. The recent trend of traditional retailers struggling with a different marketplace continues, although WMT is thriving in the new environment. Most big technology firms showed weakness in their business cycles.

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