Macy's Massacre: Thousands Fired; Guidance Slashed (Again); Weather Blamed

It was less than two months ago when we brought to you the "Macy's Massacre": on November 11, the stock of the iconic retailer crashed 13% and its CDS soared after Macy's announced a trifecta of weak data, reporting a miss on Q3 sales which came at $5.87 billion below the $6.1 billion expected, down from the $6.2 billion, as well as a plunge in comparable store sales which tumbled by 3.9%, far worse than the expected drop of -0.4%, and nearly three times as bad as the 1.4% drop a year ago.

Cash flow plunged: cash provided by operating activities was $278 million in the first three quarters of 2015, compared with $841 million in the first three quarters of 2014.

Finally, M also slashed its full year same store guidance down from flat to -1.8% to -2.2% with sales projected to drop -2.7% to -3.1%, compared to a previous guidance of -1%, as contrary to the propaganda, the discretionary spending of the US consumer is bad and getting worse by the day.

Fast forward to today when the massacre is back with a vengeance, after the company not only reported yet another cut in its guidance, but also announced it would be laying off another boatload of retailers, demonstrating just how strong the "service" economy truly is.

First, Macy’s said that its comparable sales on an owned plus licensed basis declined by 4.7% percent in the months of November and December 2015 combined, compared with the same period last year. This compares to previous, already poor guidance, of -2% to -3%. The weather was, of course, blamed.

“The holiday selling season was challenging, as experienced throughout 2015 by much of the retailing industry. In the November/December period, we were particularly disadvantaged by the historically warm weather in northern climate zones where both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are especially well-represented. About 80 percent of our company’s year-over-year declines in comparable sales can be attributed to shortfalls in cold-weather goods such as coats, sweaters, boots, hats, gloves and scarves. We also continued to feel the impact of lower spending by international tourists as the value of the dollar remained strong,” said Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s, Inc. chairman and chief executive officer.

Compare this to Macy's 8-K from precisely two years ago, and try not to laugh too hard:

"poor January sales were due to the unusually harsh winter weather across much of the country. Once warm spring weather arrives and our full assortment of fresh spring merchandise is in place, we believe customers will return to a more normalized pattern of shopping."

So much for the comedy, now back to the tragedy for shareholders, as the company admits not even "harsh cold weather" can save it as it slashes earnings guidance...

Macy’s, Inc. is not expecting a major change in sales trend in January and expects a comparable sales decline on an owned plus licensed basis in the fourth quarter of 2015 to approximate the 4.7 percent decline in November/December (from previous guidance of down between 2 percent and 3 percent for the fourth quarter). This calculates to guidance for comparable sales on an owned plus licensed basis in the full-year 2015 to decline by approximately 2.7 percent (from previous guidance of down 1.8 percent to 2.2 percent).


Earnings per diluted share for the full-year 2015 now are expected in the range of $3.85 to $3.90, excluding expenses related to cost efficiencies announced today and asset impairment charges associated primarily with spring 2016 store closings. This compares with previous guidance in the range of $4.20 to $4.30. Updated annual guidance calculates to guidance for fourth quarter earnings of $2.18 to $2.23 per diluted share, excluding charges associated with cost efficiencies and store closings. This compares with previous guidance for earnings per diluted share of $2.54 to $2.64 in the fourth quarter. Earnings guidance for 2015 includes an expected $250 million gain on the sale of real estate in downtown Brooklyn.

... and a tragedy for its employees, many of whom are about to be fired.

Macy’s, Inc. today announced a series of cost-efficiency and process improvement measures to be implemented beginning in early 2016 that will reduce SG&A expense by approximately $400 million while still investing in growth strategies, particularly in omnichannel capabilities at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. The actions represent progress toward the company’s previously stated goal of re-attaining over time an EBITDA rate as a percent of sales of 14 percent.

To address the need for greater efficiency and productivity, among the changes being implemented by Macy’s, Inc. in early 2016 are:

  • Adjusting staffing levels at each Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s store in line with current sales volume to increase productivity and improve efficiency. An average of three to four positions will be affected in each of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s approximately 770 going-forward stores (out of an average workforce of approximately 150 associates in each store), for a total of about 3,000 affected associates nationwide. Roughly 50 percent of affected store associates are expected to be placed in other positions.
  • Implementing a voluntary separation opportunity for about 165 senior executives in Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s central stores, office and support functions who meet certain age and service requirements and chose to leave the company beginning in spring 2016. Approximately 35 percent of these executive positions will not be replaced.
  • Reducing an additional 600 positions in back-office organizations by eliminating tasks, simplifying processes and combining positions, with about 150 of these associates reassigned to other positions.

Luckily, the US service economy is so very strong as Macy's results confirm, or otherwise someone might get the idea that the "manufacturing recession is not contained."