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Retail Stocks' Earnings to Watch on May 17: HD, TJX, PLCE

With most sectors signing out of the first-quarter reporting season, the focus has shifted to the Retail space wherein numerous members reported earnings last week and many more are still queued up.

Last week’s retail earnings were overshadowed by the department store space, where the leading players came up with disappointing results. While Macy’s Inc. M was in the lead, other department store retailers like Dillard’s Inc. DDS and Kohl's Corp. KSS followed suit with lower-than-expected earnings results for the first quarter.

While retailers are facing issues like weak category demand – particularly apparel – another problem in the retail sector is evolving consumer spending habits, wherein consumer preference has shifted to buying stuff online instead of going to malls. This was well evident from Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN robust first-quarter results in late April.

If we summarize the performance of nearly 55.8% S&P 500 members that have reported financial results from the Retail sector so far, we will see that 75% beat on earnings and 50% surpassed revenue estimates. Additionally, the blended beat, which is the percentage of companies beating both earnings per share and revenue estimates, is 45.8% for the sector. Total earnings for these companies were up 3.2% year over year while revenues grew 9.7%.  

Looking ahead, we expect the Retail sector to witness a 0.5% fall in earnings while sales are anticipated to rise 4.9% in first-quarter 2016. This would compare unfavorably with a 0.6% increase in earnings on 5.3% revenue growth witnessed in the fourth quarter of 2015.

A more detailed analysis of the earnings season so far and the expectations for the rest of the season are available in the ‘Earnings Trend’ report.

Here, we will focus on three Retail stocks The Home Depot Inc. HD, The TJX Companies Inc. TJX and The Children's Place Inc. PLCE, which are scheduled to report earnings on May 17.

We expect Home Depot to beat expectations when it reports first-quarter fiscal 2016 earnings as it has an Earnings ESP of +1.50% and carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), which recently improved from a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). This world’s largest home improvement retailer outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by an average of 2.5% over the past four quarters. Home Depot’s focus on developing merchandising tools and increasing investment in e-commerce is expected to boost its top line and enhance market share. Moreover, the company is on track to achieve its long-term dividend payout, share repurchase and return on investment targets, which highlight its financial strength. Also, we remain hopeful about Home Depot’s upcoming results given the robust guidance for 2016. (Read more: Why is an Earnings Beat Likely for Home Depot in Q1?)



Coming to TJX Companies, we are unsure whether this off-price apparel and home fashions retailer will be able to post a positive earnings surprise in the to-be-reported fiscal first-quarter 2017. Though the company carries a Zacks Rank #2, our prediction of earnings beat has been let down by an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. The company’s past performance reveals that it surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 4.4%. During fiscal 2016, TJX ramped up its marketing and promotional initiatives in its stores. This is expected to boost its top line in the to-be-reported quarter as well. However, the company is expected to witness a dip in margins because of higher wages paid to laborers as announced earlier in fiscal 2016. Additionally, macroeconomic headwinds and lingering currency woes remain as concerns. (Read more: What's in Store for TJX Companies in Q1 Earnings?)



Next we come to Children's Place, the children's specialty apparel retailer that outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by an average of 2.1% over the past four quarters. Though the company carries a Zacks Rank #3, our earnings beat prediction for first-quarter fiscal 2016 has been let down by an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. The company posted strong earnings results in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 on the back of its multi-pronged, company-wide transformation strategy that was slated to deliver results in the back half of 2015. The company indicated that 2016 started on a strong note with 9.7% improvement in comparable sales in first 6 weeks. Also, the company provided a solid outlook for the first quarter and fiscal 2016. However, lingering currency woes remain and might affect earnings throughout fiscal 2016.



We won’t be surprised if any of the companies deliver positive earnings surprises, as the estimates have become too conservative.

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AMAZON.COM INC (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
HOME DEPOT (HD): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CHILDRENS PLACE (PLCE): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
TJX COS INC NEW (TJX): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
MACYS INC (M): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
DILLARDS INC-A (DDS): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
KOHLS CORP (KSS): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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