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Myer hopes for Merry Christmas

Department store retailer, Myer Holdings (ASX: MYR) is expecting a good Christmas and stocktake period, but remains cautious about the year ahead.

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM), CEO Bernie Brookes said, “We quite cautious about the outlook for 2014.” He added that the company was well positioned for Christmas, with the best stocks levels the company has ever had. Myer has also launched a Christmas app, which it says will help customers connect with in-store experiences they can’t get elsewhere.

The company says its results for the first quarter of the 2014 financial year were pleasing, with total sales up 0.4% to $691 million, despite significant refurbishment of three of the top 20 stores. Mr Brookes says trading improved modestly during the quarter, but remains patchy. The company is anticipating a year of two different halves, with performance improving into the 2015 financial year.

Myer is spending $90 million in capital expenditure to refurbish existing stores, build new stores and further enhance its online store. After phenomenal growth in online sales, Chairman Paul McClintlock expects the online store to become profitable in 2015.

Mr Brookes also dismissed the efforts of its major landlord, Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) to setup a new online shopping mall, and said Myer would not be signing up. Mr Brookes said he saw Westfield’s site as just a way to clip the ticket on Australian retail sales. He said Myer has 90,000 products on its own website, and Westfield’s move would weaken earnings for retailers, and potentially push up prices for customers.

Rival David Jones (ASX: DJS) has already signed up with Westfield, as has Country Road (ASX: CTY) and Cotton On.

With consumer confidence on the improve, thanks to rising house prices and a strong stock market, it seems consumers are more willing to spend their hard-earned cash.

Foolish takeaway

Currently trading on a trailing P/E ratio of 13.0 and paying a fully franked dividend of 6.4%, Myer could be one stock to add to the watchlist.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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