Bath & Body Works’ Holiday Strength Buoys L Brands Shares

L Brands Inc. offered an update on its holiday sales performance, reporting strength at its Bath & Body Works chain while Victoria’s Secret continues to struggle.

Bath & Body Works, which sells soaps, lotions and hand sanitizer, saw comparable sales rise 17% in the nine-week period ended Jan. 2. Sales on that basis, a key metric in retail, slumped 9% at Victoria’s Secret, which L Brands is preparing to separate from Bath & Body Works this year.

The crucial holiday season was seen as doubly important this year as retailers worked to make up for sales lost during Covid-19 shutdowns in the spring. This year saw a boom in e-commerce, helping offset a dramatic drop in shopper foot traffic.

That divergence was observed at Victoria’s Secret, where comparable sales dropped 23% in stores but jumped 24% online.

Shares of L Brands rose as much as 3.5% to $45.09 in New York trading. The company was one of last year’s top performers in the S&P 500 Index.

Overall, comparable sales increased 5% in the period, according to a statement Thursday. L Brands, based in Columbus, Ohio, said it expects earnings per share, excluding some items, of $2.70 to $2.80 in the fiscal fourth quarter. That’s well above the average of estimates from analysts.

Earlier this week Tiffany & Co. said preliminary comparable sales worldwide were up 4% in the final two months of the year, even as U.S. sales dropped 4%.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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