) to neutral from outperform.
Analyst Michael Exstein says although the company remains one of the only mall anchors with a strong franchise value and unique strategy, first-quarter EPS was guided lower. He notes first-quarter EPS was guided to 12 cents to 15 cents, due to above plan markdowns and lack of SG&A leverage.
Exstein says it's clear the company has the potential to improve margins. However, in the near term, inexperience with new systems and/or difficult consumer cyclical environment keeps making real progress on gross margins more of a promise than a reality. He believes this will continue to pressure the company's relative multiple.