) reported first quarter EPS of $0.31, vs. $0.22 a year ago. Banc of America raised its earnings estimates after the report.
Analyst Dana Cohen says the results came in a penny better than her estimate and $0.02 above the consensus forecast. The upside was provided by leverage on expenses, with SG&A down 70 basis points as percent of sales year-over-year, she notes. Gross margin was also up about 10 basis points.
She raised her EPS estimates from $1.75 to $1.79 for fiscal year 2003 (January) and from $2.08 to $2.15 for fiscal year 2004. She says KSS is on track with expansion plans, having opened 38 stores in the first quarter, and planning to open 32 during the third quarter and 80 stores in fiscal year 2004.
She thinks KSS is a clear standout in a retail sector where most companies are looking at decelerating growth. She reiterates a buy rating, and has a $80 price target.