Nordstrom shares were climbing in after-hours trading Thursday after the company reported positive sales growth and a better-than-expected anniversary sale.

Share story

After a morning in which several department stores reported declines in a key sales measure, Nordstrom reported some good news, due largely to a strong start to its anniversary sale.

Nordstrom shares climbed in after-hours trading Thursday after the company reported positive sales growth that beat Wall Street expectations.

But on the topic that was likely of most interest — any news on the Nordstrom family’s efforts to take the company private — the company was mum, saying at the outset of Thursday afternoon’s conference call with investors that executives would not comment on the issue.

The company did talk about its better-than-expected earnings results for the second quarter, ended July 29, in which the fashion retailer reported a sales increase of 1.7 percent at comparable stores and online operations.

That handily beat Wall Street’s expectations of a 0.5 percent decline, according to Consensus Metrix data.

That result was also rosier than those of its peers. Macy’s reported that sales at established stores fell 2.8 percent during the second quarter, while such sales fell 0.4 percent at Kohl’s and declined 1 percent at Dillard’s.

“In a day of muted results clouded by continued sales declines, Nordstrom has provided a ray of sunshine,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said in a statement. The results, improving on the prior quarter and on the company’s guidance, are “a reminder that even in a challenging market, getting the strategy right can, and does, make all the difference.”

The store’s annual anniversary sale, which ran from July 13 to Aug. 6, certainly played a big part in that, performing “better than recent trends,” the company said in its news release.

Without the boost from the anniversary sale, though, results were more in keeping with the performance of recent quarters, which have seen softening sales, company executives said.

Nordstrom’s established full-line stores continued to see declines, with sales down 4.4 percent. Nordstrom Rack’s same-store sales decreased 1 percent.

Its online ventures fared far better, with sales at up 19.8 percent and at up 26.7 percent.

Those comparable sales figures all exceeded Wall Street estimates, except for Nordstrom Rack’s, whose decline was slightly larger than expected.

Nordstrom, which last year expanded its rewards program to allow customers without a Nordstrom card to earn points toward rewards, said Thursday that the number of such “Rewards” customers had grown 50 percent from a year ago to 9.4 million. Sales to those customers represented 56 percent of second-quarter sales, compared to 48 percent a year ago.

Saunders cautioned that while Nordstrom did better than predicted, “it remains in a very challenging part of the retail market, as is evidenced by the continued forecast of flat full-year comparable sales growth.”

Nordstrom shares were changing hands at $46.13 in after-hours trading Thursday afternoon, up 2.8 percent. The stock ended regular trading down 4.3 percent, perhaps in reaction to the poorer performance of its peers.

Overall quarterly revenue for Nordstrom came in at $3.79 billion — up nearly 4 percent from a year ago and beating Wall Street estimates of $3.73 billion, according to a Zacks consensus estimate.

Earnings per share of 65 cents was down 3 percent from a year ago but also beat the Wall Street estimate of 62 cents.