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Moody’s: Holiday sales to grow 4.5%; earnings to grow at 3.5% to 4.5% in 2012

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Retail sales growth in the United States will rebound from the third quarter this holiday season, but will be down on the previous two years’ robust gains, according to a new report by Moody’s Investors Service. The study, "Holiday Sales Will Overcome the U.S. Fiscal Policy Grinch," also finds that earnings growth will be slightly stronger.

“We expect holiday sales growth of about 4%, down from 6.5% in 2011," said VP, senior credit officer Margaret Taylor. "But while sales will be down, earnings are on track to grow at 3.5% to 4.5% for the full year 2012, compared with 2.7% last year."

Online spending will be a bright spot for retailers this holiday season.

"We expect online spending to increase about 15% year over year, far outpacing the growth in overall holiday sales," Taylor said.

Retailers whose goods are perceived to provide good value are expected to perform well, as are the toys, electronics and party goods segments. In electronics, the new Kindle and iPad, Nintendo’s Wii U and new game releases will drive sales this holiday season, though heightened price competition may constrain margins. Apparel retailers’ earnings will continue to benefit from lower commodity costs, particularly for cotton, as well as easy comparisons with last year’s weak sales.

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Kirkland’s reports Q3 loss; CEO to go on temporary medical leave

BY Marianne Wilson

Nashville, Tenn. — Kirkland’s Inc. lost $416,000 for the period ended Oct. 27, compared with a profit of $1.2 million a year earlier. Analysts had predicted a bigger loss.

Revenue inched down to $96.7 million from $97.1 million. Same-store sales were down 4.7%.

Kirkland’s also announced that president and CEO Robert Alderson is taking a temporary medical leave of absence, starting on Monday. SVP and CFO Mike Madden will serve as acting president and CEO until Alderson returns.

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Hudson’s Bay raising less than planned in IPO

BY Staff Writer

Toronto — Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Co. is set to raise C$365 million ($367 million) in its initial public stock offering, Reuters reported. The amount is lower than the retailer’s original target of about C$400 million.

Hudson’s Bay has priced the offering of 21.48 million shares at C$17 apiece, which is at the bottom of the company’s already lowered range of C$17 to C$18.

The company, which owns Lord & Taylor in the United States and Hudson’s Bay in Canada, had originally aimed for an offering price of C$18.50 to C$21.50 a share.

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