Macy’s, Inc. (M), J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (JCP), Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN): Who Wins?

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Continuing to move along from strength to strength, Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) turned in a solid quarter, beating analyst expectations. The department store’s stock has increased 25% over the past 12 months, easily beating out the S&P 500. Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) has been on an almost straight path since the end of 2008, when it hit a 10-year low point as the economy turned into a festering cesspool. Today represents a new 52 week high for Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M), and it looks like there’s plenty left to come.

Macy's, Inc. (NYSE:M)The basis for the success
To quickly swing through the ropes that got Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) to today’s announcement, let’s start with sales. Comparable sales were up 3.8%, a figure that includes online sales as well. One of the beauties of this quarter’s increase was that it came from business as usual. There was no crazy special, no huge change — just straightforward selling to customers.

Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) distilled those sales down to earnings of $0.55 per share, which beat out analysts’ expectations of $0.53. Operating margin hit 6.8%, up from 6.4% for the same quarter last year. The bump in earnings was enough encouragement for management to declare an increase in the dividend as well, raising it $0.05 to $0.25.

Macy’s success in context
Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) growth was positive, and it put it closer to the top of the department-store pile. Firmly crushed down at the bottom is J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP). The company announced some preliminary results last week, and as usual, things looked rough. Comparable sales for the first quarter are forecast to drop 16.6%. That’s going to drag total sales down 16.4% and should firmly cement J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) as “worst of breed.”

Sitting on top of the pile is Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN), which has had fantastic success over the past few years. In its last quarter, comparable sales were up 6.1%, with total sales up 6.3%. That growth came from Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN)’s focus on customers and its constant increasing of the ways that customers can interact with it. Mobile shopping and mobile registers in-store are making it easier for customers to shop, and it’s driving sales across the board.

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