Macy's stock soars 20% amid strong quarter, plans for digital marketplace

·2 min read

Macy's (M) is having its best day ever as shares rose 20%. The pop comes after posting better than expected quarterly results and teasing the launch of a digital marketplace in the second half of next year.

"Not too long ago, every article we saw about department stores was that they were dead, and Macy's was leading the charge there. But the CEO has actually been able to cater to younger consumers who don't typically shop at department stores," Christine Short, VP of research for Wall Street Horizon, told Yahoo Finance Live.

"It helps that people are out there spending again," said Short. "Rather than buy back shares or do whatever else they could be doing with the cash they have on their balance sheet, they are investing in this business ... They are serious about investing in their digital marketplace."

Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette said during the company's earnings call that it hired a consulting firm to advise on its e-commerce business.

“Ultimately, we just need to see that the additional shareholder value can be unlocked beyond the potential of our current approach,” said Gennette.

Activist investor Jana Partners bought about 1.5% of Macy's stock and has been pushing for an e-commerce unit spin-out.

If that happens, Saks Fifth Avenue may be used as a model. Earlier this year the department store announced it was spinning out its digital business. Wall Street speculates the company's e-commerce unit could eventually go public.

"They're [Macy's] looking to Saks to see how that situation goes," said Short. "Then you still have the brick- and-mortar side, and how do you prop that up. Right now — and the reasons Jana Partners got involved, is because they see valuation increasing on that e-commerce side."

But some analysts don't see a full spin-out ultimately happening.

"I don't think it makes sense, and I don't think the management of the company intends to do it at all. It would go completely against Macy's strategy, which has been to integrate the stores and online business as much as possible," David Schwartz, Morningstar Equity analyst told Yahoo Finance Live.

"Without the online business, Macy's stores would be in very bad shape. You can say that the online business would get a better valuation, but that doesn't say much about what will happen to the rest of the business," he added.

Macy's stock is up more than 230% year-to-date.

Shares of other retailers also rallied on Thursday. Kohl’s (KSS) increased about 9% following stronger than expected quarterly results, while Nordstrom's (JWN) rose about 5%.

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