Earnings Preview: Macy's to report 3Q profits

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy's Inc. may provide some insight into consumer spending heading into the critical holiday shopping season when it reports its third-quarter results before the market opens Wednesday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The department store chain has been reaping the benefits of its strategy of tailoring merchandise to local markets, which is expected to be reflected in the results. Analysts will be deciphering comments about how Superstorm Sandy, which slammed into the Northeast on Oct. 29, has affected shoppers' mindset and plans for spending. Macy's closed the books the same day the storm hit.

Analysts will also be looking for any details on Macy's holiday merchandising and marketing strategies. Analysts will also want to know how much Macy's is benefiting from J.C. Penney's woes. Penney implemented a new pricing plan Feb. 1 that ditched hundreds of sales in favor of everyday pricing. The move has turned off shoppers, who are used to seeing big sales signs.

Macy's said last week that revenue from established stores rose 4.1 percent in October. The Cincinnati-based chain gave an upbeat outlook on the holiday season despite huge disruptions from Sandy.

Analysts expected a 2.9 percent increase in revenue for stores open at least a year, according to Thomson Reuters. It's a closely watched gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes volatility from stores that open or close during the year.

Total revenue for the October period rose 3.6 percent to $1.91 billion.

"Business was strong in October, and we delivered a solid performance in the third quarter," said CEO Terry Lundgren in a statement.

Macy's said 200 of its stores, including Bloomingdale's, were closed at some point during regular hours because of the storm. The closings ranged from just a few hours to days. But the company said it expects to make up some or most of its lost sales through the remainder of the fourth quarter.

The company now expects revenue in stores open at least one year to rise 4 percent in the second half of the year, up slightly from prior guidance of a 3.7 percent increase. It expects the figure to rise 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter

For the third-quarter, revenue in stores open at least one year rose 3.7 percent and total sales rose 3.8 percent to $6.08 billion. Analysts expected a $6.05 billion increase.

WHY IT MATTERS: Macy's is seen as a barometer of spending among middle- to upper-income shoppers.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts surveyed by FactSet, on average, expect earnings of 29 cents per share on revenue of $6.07 billion.

LAST YEAR's QUARTER: Macy's, based in Cincinnati, earned 32 cents per share on revenue of $5.85 billion.