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Nordstrom in Need of Retail Therapy

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Retailer books uninspired second-quarter, lowers guidance.

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After the close on Thursday, Seattle-based Nordstrom (JWN) disseminated its second- quarter numbers. Some things piqued my interest, others just turned me off.

Here's the good and the bad as I perceived it:

In the period ended August 2nd, Nordstrom earned $143 million, or $0.65 a share. That's a pretty big drop from the $180 million, or $0.71 a share, it earned in the same period last year. On a positive note, its earnings per share number was about a penny north of analyst's expectations.

Not too shabby, right?

But it didn't make sense to uncork the champagne: That "good news" was overshadowed by its revenue number. The company booked $2.29 billion in revenue for the quarter, below the $2.31 billion the Street had been expecting.

Delving deeper into the release, I was intrigued when I read Nordstrom spent $50 million to buy back 1.5 million of its shares at an average price of $32.42. I'm pretty sure that's a sign the board thinks its shares are undervalued.

However, my enthusiasm quickly waned when I noticed the company's same-store sales dropped 6% in the period. It's a much sharper drop than the 2.1% same-store decline Macy's (M) reported in its recent second-quarter results.

Next, I was encouraged to see that the company reduced its SG&A costs by 5% in the period. Especially in a slowing economy it's crucial to keep that line item in check.

But upon seeing Nordstrom's full-year guidance my stomach dropped.

According to the release, the company expects fiscal year earnings "to be in the range of $2.55 to $2.65" per share, sharply lower than the $2.65 to $2.80 it forecasted back in May.

You might say I experienced a wide range of emotions reading the company's second- quarter release. I think I'll remain on the sidelines for the time being.

Nordstrom closed at $30.22, up $0.53 or 1.79%.

No positions in stocks mentioned.

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