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A Look at February Same-Store Sales; Enjoy the Transparency While It Lasts
CNBC.com | February 28, 2012 | 11:14 AM EST

As retailers reporting monthly sales are going the way of the dinosaur, enjoy the transparency while it lasts.

Last week we heard from the first round of major retailers reporting fourth-quarter earnings. Some were even cooperative enough to give us an early read on February's same-store sales. And why not? Good results or bad — it won’t be long before the companies have to rip off the Band-Aid and report the results on Thursday, March 1.

Target gave us the nod in February, running well ahead at up 4 percent. Limited noted trends of mid- to high-single digit gains versus guidance of in the low-single digits. And in the camp of low-balling the numbers, TJX called out 7 percent trends in February, although its first-quarter forecast is between 2 percent to 4 percent) and February comparisons are the easiest of the quarter.

In the case of Kohl’s, not all early looks were good ones. The company issued first-quarter and annual guidance well below the Street. And there is nothing like trying to backload comps for the year as renewed focus on price leadership efforts are expected to pay off.

Kohl's annual same-store sales are expected to rise 2 percent, while first-quarter guidance is for an increase of 1 percent (with February and April below the quarter and March above it). I have seen the “back-half recovery” story before and I can tell you that it usually does not end well.

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