Nordstrom’s 3rd-quarter profit rises 15 percent

NEW YORK — Nordstrom Inc. reported a 15 percent increase in third-quarter net income, fueled by strong demand of men’s shoes, men’s clothing and children’s fashions.

But the upscale retailer’s profit results missed Wall Street estimates, as the company invested more money in enhancing its rewards program for shoppers. Investors pushed down shares by 3 percent in after-hour trading, extending the decline in regular trading. The company released its results after regular trading closed Thursday.

Still, Nordstrom’s solid quarter is encouraging news as the upscale retailer heads into the holiday season. Sales have rebounded since late 2009 for Nordstrom and other luxury retailers as the affluent have spent more. The question, however, is how Superstorm Sandy, which disrupted businesses and households in the Northeast, will affect consumers’ future spending.

Nordstrom closed the books on the quarter two days before Sandy pummeled the densely packed Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. Many shoppers are dealing with problems ranging from transportation to power outages to more serious issues like property losses.

Nordstrom is also grappling with new demands from shoppers armed with smartphones and tables. That’s pushing the high-end merchant, long known for service, to come up with new ways to cater to shoppers.

“We aspire to continually improve the customer experience,” Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom, told investors during a conference call. “There’s no finish line when it comes to this subject as our customers have access to a growing number of choices with expectations increasingly centered on speed and convenience.”

Last year Nordstrom started offering free shipping on all online purchases with no minimum dollar amount.

Previously customers had to spend at least $200 to qualify. Return shipping is free too. The company is also giving sales associates devices that let them check out shoppers anywhere in the store.

Nordstrom has also partnered with Arcadia Group to launch shops under the British company’s Topshop and Topman brands in 14 of its 117 full-scale departments this fall. Company officials said they’ve been encouraged by the results.

Nordstrom is also looking for growth beyond the U.S. and announced in September that it was heading to Canada, starting in 2014. It’s teaming up with Canadian mall developer Cadillac Fairview to open four stores; in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Cadillac Fairview operates shopping centers across Canada.

Nordstrom earned $146 million, or 71 cents per share for the three-month period ended Oct. 27. That compares with $127 million, or 59 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Total sales rose 14 percent to $2.81 billion. Revenue at stores opened at least a year was up 10.7 percent. Its online business increased 38 percent for the quarter compared with a year ago.

Analysts, on average, expected 72 cents per share on total revenue of $2.75 billion, according to FactSet.

Nordstrom, based in Seattle, narrowed its full-year profit outlook to a range of $3.45 to $3.50 per share, from previous guidance of $3.40 to $3.50 per share issued in August.

It also expects revenue at stores opened at least a year to rise 6.5 to 7 percent. In August it forecast growth of 6 to 7 percent.

“While this guidance considers the impacts of Hurricane Sandy, there remains uncertainty and we will continue to monitor trends in the affected areas.” Mike Koppell, Nordstrom’s executive vice president and chief financial officer told investors.

Shares fell 3.2 percent, or $1.85, to close at $55.40 in regular trading. In after-hour trading, they lost another 2 percent, or $1.05, to $54.35.

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