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Retailers report mixed sales numbers

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The news wires are bustling this morning as retailers give investors a look at recent sales trends and future outlook for the holiday shopping season. With a plethora of stores giving insight to the consumer, the S&P Retail Index (RLX.X) 282.55 -1.16% and Retail HOLDRS (AMEX:RTH) 73.80 -1.13% both trade modestly lower, but relatively stronger than the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) 909, which is off -1.5% in late morning trading.

Here's a quick look at some of the retailers are saying about the past and the future.

Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) $42.68 -3.6% guides its Q3 outlook to $0.57 a share versus consensus of $0.55. The company reported a 7% increase in Oct comps.

Gap Inc. (NYSE:GAP) $5.97 +0.16% reported an 11% increase in Oct comps. "Overall, October results across all brands significantly exceeded our beginning of month expectations." For Q3, the company guided EPS to $0.12-$0.14 (consensus $0.06). The company did say that the recent port closures impacted Q4 by $0.02-$0.07.

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) $19.72 +10% said it expects Q3 earnings to exceed previous guidance of $0.41-$0.45 (consensus $0.43). The retailer said it is comfortable with Q4 consensus of $0.79.

Federated Dept. Stores (NYSE:FD) $31.06 +2.27% guided its Q3 outlook to a range of $0.36-$0.38 from previous guidance of $0.30-$0.35 (consensus $0.31). Saying the much-anticipated arrival of cold weather in many parts of the country helped October sales exceed expectations.

Gymboree (NASDAQ:GYMB) $18.56 -1.9% says it sees Q3 earnings of $0.18-$0.20 versus previous guidance of $0.15-$0.17 (consensus $0.17). GYMB reaffirmed its Q4 outlook of $0.38-$0.40.

Ann Taylor Stores (NYSE:ANN) $22.70 -1.5% raised its Q3 earnings guidance to approximately $0.53 from $0.50- 0.51, which was slightly above consensus for $0.49. Ann Taylor remains comfortable with current Q4 EPS guidance of $0.32-0.33, and raises their 2002 earnings outlook to $1.69-1.70 from $1.66- 1.68 (consensus $1.65). Additionally reports a 0.2% increase in Oct comps.

JC Penny (NYSE:JCP) $20.06 +1% said it expects to report Q3 operating earnings above current analyst estimates based on better than expected department store sales and strong operating profits at Eckerd's. Consensus estimates is $0.23. JCP reported Oct comparable department store sales increased 13.7%, significantly above plan, and comparable drugstore sales increased 3.9%, which was below expectations.

Christopher & Banks (NYSE:CBK) $24.24 -14% is sharply lower after the retailer guided its Q3 to a range of $0.43-$0.45, which was well below consensus for $0.50. CBK said it sees Q4 EPS 2-3 cents below the $0.50 consensus estimate.

Arts and craft retailer Michaels Stores (NYSE:MIK) $34.25 -23% plummeted lower after reducing its Q4 same-store guidance to up 1% from previous forecast of up 2-3%. In addition, MIK sees full yr earnings a 5 cents below previous guidance of $2.10 (consensus $2.15). MIK notes that the "consumer confidence index had fallen to a nine year low."

Shares of Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST) $32 -5% trade sharply lower after the company said a slowing of comparable sales results, it is revising lower Q1 guidance to $0.30-$0.32 from previous range of $0.32-$0.33. This would be just below consensus among analyst's for $0.32 EPS.

Shares of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) $54.07 -0.49% reported a 3.7% increase in October comparables.

Shoe Carnival (NASDAQ:SCVL) $15.82 +9% increased its Q3 outlook to $0.37-$0.38 from previous guidance of $0.32-$0.34, which was well above consensus for $0.32. Based on recent sales trend, the company is now more optimistic about Q4 than it was a month ago. "Undoubtedly, cooler than normal weather in the Midwest provided the impetus for consumers to shop for Fall products during the month of October."

American Eagle Outfitters (NASDAQ:AEOS) $16.52 +3.96% reported a 2% decline in October same-store sales. Based on stronger than expected October sales, the company now sees Q3 earnings at the high end of the $0.31-$0.34 range, with analyst's consensus at $0.32.

Jeff Bailey

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