Top Retail Companies To Own In Right Now

When creating and managing a portfolio I feel it is important to set rules for buying and selling, and stick to those rules, no matter what. You can adjust the rules over time, but don’t let the emotions of the moment cause you to go against the rules you have set up. I also feel it is important to keep the rules fairly simple, so that you don’t have any problems following them. I think this helps keep emotion out of your investing decisions. Investing decisions based on emotion are one of the biggest factors hurting over all return. As a dividend growth investor, since collecting an ever increasing stream of dividends is my main goal, I have decided that the only criteria I have for selling a stock is if it cuts its dividend. Price changes (up or down), earnings misses, economic issues… none of these will make me sell. Since my buying criteria are designed to pick quality stocks with an excellent history of dividend growth, once a stock has met my criteria to be pu rchased the only thing that will make me sell it is if it cuts its dividend. Many others who use the DGI philosophy also use this as one of their main selling criteria, although not always the only criteria.

Top Retail Companies To Own In Right Now: Asbury Automotive Group Inc (ABG)

Asbury Automotive Group, Inc. (Asbury), incorporated on February 15, 2002, is an automotive retailers in the United States. As of December 31, 2011, the Company operated 99 franchises (79 dealership locations). It offers a range of automotive products and services, including new and used vehicles; vehicle maintenance; replacement parts and collision repair services; new and used vehicle financing, and aftermarket products, such as insurance, warranty and service contracts. As of December 31, 2011, it offered 30 domestic and foreign brands of new vehicles. Its brand mix is weighted 84% towards luxury and mid-line import brands, with the remaining 16% consisting of domestic brands. As of December 31, 2011, it operated dealerships in 18 metropolitan markets throughout the United States. As of December 31, 2011, its retail network consisted of eight locally-branded dealership groups. As of December 31, 2011, its brand names included Nalley Automotive Group, Courtesy Autogroup, Coggin Automotive Group, Crown Automotive Company, David McDavid Auto Group, North Point Auto Group, Gray-Daniels Auto Family and Plaza Motor Company. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company sold its heavy truck business in Atlanta, Georgia, two franchises and one additional ancillary business. On May 2, 2011, the Company sold its luxury brand dealership in California. In December 2012, the Company acquired a Volkswagen and a Bentley store in the Atlanta, Georgia market.

New Vehicle Sales

As of December 31, 2011, the Company owned a range of 30 American, European and Asian brands. Its new vehicle unit sales consist of the sale of new vehicles to individual retail customers (new vehicle retail) and the sale of new vehicles to commercial customers (fleet). During the year ended December 31, 2011, it sold 71,449 new vehicles through its dealerships. During 2011, new vehicle sales were 54% of its total revenues and 22% of its total gross p rofit. The Company’s new vehicle revenues include new vehi! cle sale and lease transactions arranged by its dealerships with third parties.

Used Vehicle Sales

The Company sells used vehicles at all of its dealership locations. Used vehicle sales include the sale of used vehicles to individual retail customers (used retail) and the sale of used vehicles to other dealers at auction (wholesale). During 2011, it sold 55,805 used retail vehicles through its dealerships. During 2011, sales of used retail vehicles accounted for approximately 25% of its total revenues. During 2011, wholesale sales represented 4% of its total revenues.

The Company’s new vehicle operations provide its used vehicle operations with a supply of trade-ins and off-lease vehicles. It also purchases a portion of its used vehicle inventory at auctions restricted to new vehicle dealers and open auctions, which offer vehicles sold by other dealers and repossessed vehicles. Its used vehicle inventory is sold as wholesale if a ve hicle is not sold at retail within 60 days, except for used vehicles, which does not fit within its inventory mix. The reconditioning of used vehicles also generates revenue for its parts and service departments.

Parts and Service

Asbury sells replacement parts and provides vehicle maintenance and collision repair service at all of its franchised dealerships, for the vehicle brands sold at those dealerships. As of December 31, 2011, in addition, it maintained 25 free-standing collision repair centers either on the premises of, or in close proximity to, its dealerships. During 2011, parts and service revenues accounted for approximately 14% of its total revenues.

Finance and Insurance

The Company refers to the finance and insurance portion of its business as F&I. Through its F&I business, it arranges, and receives commissions for, third-party financing of the sale or lease of new and used vehicles to customers, as well as of fers a range of aftermarket products, such as extended servi! ce contra! cts, guaranteed asset protection (GAP) debt cancellation, pre-paid maintenance and credit life and disability insurance. It also generates F&I revenues from the receipt of marketing fees paid to it under agreements with preferred lenders. During 2011, its F&I business generated approximately 3% of its total revenues. Extended service contracts cover repair work after the expiration of the manufacturer warranty. GAP debt cancellation covers the customer after a total loss for the difference between the value of the vehicle and the outstanding loan or lease obligation after insurance proceeds. Prepaid maintenance covers routine maintenance work, such as oil changes, cleaning and adjusting of brakes, multi-point vehicle inspections and tire rotations. Credit life and disability covers the remaining amounts due on an auto loan or a lease in the event of death or disability.

The Company earns sales-based commissions from third-party lenders, including manufacturer c aptive finance subsidiaries which arranges on behalf of its customers. It may be charged back (chargebacks) for these commissions in the event a finance contract is cancelled or repaid, typically within the first 90 days of such contract. During 2011, it arranged customer financing on approximately 70% of the vehicles it sold. The Company is a party to a range of preferred lender agreements. These payments are determined by the lenders based upon an agreed-upon earnings schedule.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    Calling all cash flows
    When you are trying to buy the market’s best stocks, it’s worth checking up on your companies’ free cash flow once a quarter or so, to see whether it bears any relationship to the net income in the headlines. That’s what we do with this series. Today, we’re checking in on Asbury Automotive Group (NYSE: ABG  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

  • [By Jeremy Bowman]

    What: Shares of Asbury Automotive Group (NYSE: ABG  ) were revving up today, gaining as much as 15% after posting a strong earnings report.

  • [By Inyoung Hwang]

    Fresnillo Plc (FRES) and Polymetal International Plc sank at least 7 percent to lead declines in the Stoxx 600 after the precious-metals producers were not included in the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index. Fresnillo tumbled 13 percent to 1,045 pence. Polymetal plunged 7.1 percent to 659.5 pence. African Barrick Gold Plc (ABG) also fell, losing 12 percent to 143.9 pence.

Top Retail Companies To Own In Right Now: Cato Corp (CATO)

The Cato Corporation (Cato) is a women’s fashion specialty retailer. As of January 28, 2012, the Company operated 1,288 fashion specialty stores in 31 states, principally in the southeastern United States, under the names Cato, Cato Fashions, Cato Plus, It’s Fashion, It’s Fashion Metro and Versona Accessories. It operates in two segments: stores and Credit. The Company’s stores offer a assortment of on-trend apparel and accessory items in primarily junior/missy, plus sizes, girls sizes 7 to 16, men’s and kids sizes newborn to seven. Its merchandise lines include dressy, career, and casual sportswear, dresses, coats, shoes, lingerie, costume jewelry, handbags, men’s wear and lines for kids and newborns. Its merchandise is sold under its private label and is produced by various vendors in accordance with the Company’s specifications.

The Company offers its own credit card and a layaway plan to make the purchase of its merchandise convenient for its customers. The Company’s stores are located in the southeastern United States in a variety of markets ranging from small towns to metropolitan areas with trade area populations of 20,000 or more. Stores average approximately 4,500 square feet in size. The Company offers its own credit card, which accounted for 4.8% of retail sales during the fiscal year ended January 28, 2012 (fiscal 2012).

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    The Cato (NYSE: CATO) was down, falling 11.89 percent to $26.52 on Q4 results. Cato reported its Q4 earnings of $0.13 per share, versus analysts’ estimates of $0.13 per share. Cato Corporation expects FY14 earnings of $1.47 to $1.66 per share, versus estimates of $1.86 per share.

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    The Cato (NYSE: CATO) was down, falling 6.35 percent to $28.19 on Q4 results. Cato reported its Q4 earnings of $0.13 per share, versus analysts’ estimates of $0.13 per share. Cato Corporation expects FY14 earnings of $1.47 to $1.66 per share, versus estimates of $1.86 per share.

Top Retail Companies To Own In Right Now: Walgreen Co (WAG)

Walgreen Co. (Walgreens), incorporated on February 15, 1909, together with its subsidiaries, operates the drugstore chain in the United States. The Company provides its customers with access to consumer goods and services, pharmacy, and health and wellness services in communities across America. The Company offers its products and services through drugstores, as well as through mails, by telephone and online. The Company sells prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as general merchandises, including household items, convenience and fresh foods, personal care, beauty care, photofinishing and candy. On August 2, 2012, it acquired 45% interest in Alliance Boots GmbH (Alliance Boots). In September 2012, the Company completed the purchase of a regional drugstore chain in the mid-South region of the United States that included 144 stores operated under the USA Drug, Super D Drug, May’s, Med-X and Drug Warehouse names. In September 2012, WP Carey & Co LLC acquired fiv e retail stores leased to Walgreen Co. In December 2012, the Company completed a transaction giving company a ownership stake in Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Pharmacy LLC.

The Company’s pharmacy, health and wellness services include retail, specialty, infusion and respiratory services, mail service, convenient care clinics and worksite health and wellness centers. These services help improve health outcomes and manage costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The Company’s Take Care Health Systems subsidiary is a manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the United States.

As of August 31, 2012, Walgreens operated 8,385 locations in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. In 2012, the Company opened or acquired 266 locations for a net increase of 175 locations af ter relocations and closings. As of August 31, 2012, the Com! pany had 7,930 of Drugstores, 366 of Worksite Health and Wellness Centers, 76 of Infusion and Respiratory Services Facilities, 11 of Specialty Pharmacies and two of Mail Service Facilities. The Company’s drugstores are engaged in the retail sale of prescription and non-prescription drugs and general merchandise. General merchandise includes, among other things, household items, convenience and fresh foods, personal care, beauty care, photofinishing and candy.

The Company offers specialty pharmacy services that provide customers nationwide access to a variety of medications, services and programs for managing complex and chronic health conditions. In addition, the Company offers its customers infusion therapy services, including the administration of intravenous (IV) medications for cancer treatments, chronic pain, heart failure, and other infections and disorders which must be treated by IV. Walgreens provides these infusion services at home, at the workplace, in a physician’s office or at a Walgreens alternate treatment site. The Company also provides clinical services, such as laboratory monitoring, medication profile review, nutritional assessments and patient and caregiver education.

Customers can also access the Company’s e-commerce solutions, which extend the convenience to purchase most products available within its drugstores, as well as additional products sold exclusively online through its walgreens.com and drugstore.com Websites, including beauty.com and visiondirect.com. The Company’s Websites allow consumers to purchase general merchandise including beauty, personal care, home medical equipment, contact lenses, vitamins and supplements and other health and wellness solutions. The Company’s mobile applications also allow customers to refill prescriptions through their mobile device, download weekly promotions and find the nearest Walgreens drugstore. The Company also offers services through Take Care Heal th Systems, which manages its Take Care Clinics at select Wa! lgreens d! rugstores throughout the country.

Alliance Boots is a pharmacy-led health and beauty retailing and pharmaceutical wholesaling and distribution business. As of March 31, 2012, its fiscal year end, Alliance Boots had, together with its associates and joint ventures, pharmacy-led health and beauty retail businesses in 11 countries and operated more than 3,330 health and beauty retail stores, of which over 3,200 had a pharmacy. In addition, Alliance Boots had approximately 625 optical practices, approximately 185 of which operated on a franchise basis. Its pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution businesses, including its associates and joint ventures, supplied medicines, other healthcare products and related services to more than 170,000 pharmacies, doctors, health centers and hospitals from over 370 distribution centers in 21 countries.

Alliance Boots’s stores located in the United Kingdom, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Thaila nd and Lithuania and through its associates and joint ventures in Switzerland, China, Italy, Russia and Croatia. In addition, as of March 31, 2012, there were 58 Boots stores operated in the Middle East on a franchised basis. In its Health & Beauty Division, Alliance Boots has product brands such as No7, Soltan and Botanics, together with other brands, such as Boots Pharmaceuticals and Boots Laboratories. Through its Pharmaceutical Wholesale Division and several of its associates, Alliance Boots sells Almus, its line of generic medicines, in five countries and Alvita, its line of patient care products, in six countries.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Teresa Rivas]

    Walgreen (WAG) and Rite Aid (RAD) ended the day up more than 1% and 2%, respectively, as investors were happy to see March same-store sales rise, even if they didn’t meet expectations.

  • [By Wallace Witkowski]

    A handful of companies report earnings this week including Walgreen Co. (WAG) , Carnival Corp. (CCL) , Accenture PLC (ACN) , Red Hat Inc. (RHT) , Paychex Inc. (PAYX) , and GameStop Corp. (GME) First-quarter earnings season won’t be in full swing until mid-April when J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM)  reports.

  • [By Mike Deane]

    Analyst firm Cantor Fitzgerald cut Walgreen Company (WAG) from “Hold” to “Sell,” as an analyst with the firm believes WAG stock is overpriced.

    Cantor analyst Ajay Jain had the following comments about the cut to Walgreen’s rating: ”Our views on Walgreen’s fundamentals are unchanged heading into 2Q earnings on 3/25. However, with WAG’s share price up by close to 17% following the 1Q earnings release on 12/20, we can’t justify a HOLD rating without a meaningful increase in our price target. With WAG trading at an estimated forward PE multiple of 24x our FY:14 estimates, we are sticking to our guns on valuation.”

    He added: ”WAG also discounts significant earnings upside from Alliance Boots even as the core earnings growth remains in the low-single digits. Finally, based on what we view as some questionable earnings quality recently, we think it’s appropriate to highlight this issue. While WAG had been our top pick after the strategic partnership with Alliance Boots was announced, we think the combined earnings power is more than fully reflected in the stock.”

    Cantor has a $50 price target on the company, suggesting the stock will decline 10% from its current price.

    WAG stock was inactive in pre-market trading. The stock is up 18.01% YTD.

Top Retail Companies To Own In Right Now: WH Smith PLC (SMWH)

WH Smith PLC is a United Kingdom-based retail company. The Company has two businesses divisions: Travel and High Street. The Company’s Travel division sells a range of newspapers, magazines, books and impulse products for people on the move and a broader convenience range in hospitals and workplaces. The Company’s High Street sells a wide range of stationery, books, newspapers, magazines and impulse products, as well as a small range of entertainment products.The Company’s subsidiaries include WH Smith PLC, WH Smith Retail Holdings Limited, WH Smith High Street Holdings Limited, WH Smith Travel Holdings Limited, WH Smith High Street Limited, WH Smith Travel Limited and WH Smith Hospitals Holdings Limited. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Sofia Horta e Costa]

    Hays Plc (HAS) climbed 2.2 percent after the recruitment company said quarterly fees increased in its European markets. WH Smith Plc (SMWH) jumped the most in six months after raising its final dividend and saying it plans to repurchase an additional 50 million pounds ($80 million) of shares. Melrose Industries Plc (MRO) added 1.8 percent after KKR & Co. said it will pay about $1 billion for two of its U.S. industrial-products companies.

Top Retail Companies To Own In Right Now: Foot Locker Inc (FL)

Foot Locker, Inc., incorporated on April 7, 1989, is a global retailer of shoes and apparel, operating 3,335 primarily mall-based stores in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand as of February 2, 2013. The Company operates in two segments: Athletic Stores and Direct-to-Customers. The Athletic Stores segment is an athletic footwear and apparel retailer whose formats include Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Footaction, and CCS. The Direct-to-Customers segment includes Footlocker.com, Inc. and other affiliates, including Eastbay, Inc. and CCS, which sell to customers through Internet websites, mobile devices, and catalogs. In September 2013, the Company acquired Runners Point Warenhandels GmbH (Runners) from Hannover Finanz GmbH.

Athletic Stores

Foot Locker is a global athletic footwear and apparel retailer. Its stores offer the products manufactured primarily by the athletic brands. Foot Locker offers products for a variety of activities, including basketball, running, and training. Additionally, the Company operates 65 House of Hoops, primarily a shop-in-shop concept, which sells basketball inspired products. Foot Locker’s 1,883 stores are located in 23 countries, including 1,072 in the United States, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, and Guam, 129 in Canada, 590 in Europe, and a combined 92 in Australia and New Zealand. The domestic stores have an average of 2,300 selling square feet and the international stores have an average of 1,500 selling square feet. Lady Foot Locker is a United States retailer of athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories for active women. Its stores carry athletic footwear and apparel brands, as well as casual wear and an assortment of apparel designed for a variety of activities, including running, walking, training, and fitness. In November 2012, the Company announced the introduction of a new banner named SIX:02. T his new banner is an elevated retail concept featuring brand! s in fitness apparel and athletic footwear for women. Lady Foot Locker and SIX:02 operate 300 and 3 stores, and are located in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. These stores have an average of 1,300 selling square feet.

The Company’s Kids Foot Locker is a national children’s athletic retailer that offers a selection of brand-name athletic footwear, apparel and accessories for children. Its stores feature an environment geared to appeal to both parents and children. Its 305 stores are located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Europe, and Canada. These stores have an average of 1,400 selling square feet. Footaction is a national athletic footwear and apparel retailer. Its 283 stores are located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and focus on marquee footwear and branded apparel. The Footaction stores have an average of 2,900 selling square feet. Champs Sports is a mall-based speci alty athletic footwear and apparel retailers in North America. Its product categories include athletic footwear and apparel, and sport-lifestyle inspired accessories. Its 539 stores are located throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. The Champs Sports stores have an average of 3,500 selling square feet. As of February 2, 2013, the Company operated 22 stores in the United States.

Direct-to-Customers

The Company’s Direct-to-Customers segment is multi-branded and multi-channeled. This segment sells, through its affiliates, directly to customers through its Internet websites, mobile devices, and catalogs. The Direct-to-Customers segment operates the Websites for eastbay.com, final-score.com, eastbayteamservices.com, ccs.com, as well as Websites aligned with the brand names of its store banners (footlocker.com, ladyfootlocker.com, kidsfootlocker.com, footaction.com, and champssports.com). Eastbay is a direct marketer in the United States, providing the high sch! ool athle! te with a sports solution, including athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, team licensed, and private-label merchandise. CCS serves the needs of the 12-20 year old seeking an authentic board lifestyle shop. CCS is anchored in skate but appealing to the surrounding board culture. The CCS format offers board lifestyle merchandise that will fit the needs of the customer all year long and stocks a selection of both core and lifestyle brands. The retail store operations of CCS are included in the Athletic Stores segment.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Bieglmeier]

    [Related -Foot Locker, Inc. (FL) Put Options Active As Stock Gets Stomped]

    Meanwhile, Revenue is forecasted to climb by 2.8% in Q4 2013 versus Q4 2012. The consensus sales estimate is $1.76 billion with a range of $1.68 billion to $1.81 billion. Last year, Foot Locker earned $1.71 billion in the fourth quarter.

  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Notable earnings released on Friday included:

    W&T Offshore(NYSE: WTI) reported a fourth quarter loss of $0.09 per share on revenue of $244.90 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.26 on revenue of $237.15 million. Footlocker(NYSE: FL) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.82 on revenue of $1.79 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.73 on revenue of $1.71 billion. Big Lots(NYSE: BIG) reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.39 on revenue of $1.64 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $2.09 on revenue of $1.75 billion.

    Pre-Market Movers

  • [By Jayson Derrick]

    This morning, Foot Locker (NYSE: FL) reported its fourth quarter earnings. The company announced an EPS of $0.82, beating the consensus estimate of $0.76. Revenue of $1.79 billion beat the consensus estimate of $1.76 billion. Net income for the quarter rose to $121 million from 104 million in the same quarter last year aided by comparable-store sales rising 5.3 percent in the quarter and an expansion of its “shop-in-shops” concepts. The company is guiding for a double-digit percentage increase in EPS in 2014. Shares hit new 52 week highs of $46.80 before closing the day at $46.49, up 8.80 percent.

Top Retail Companies To Own In Right Now: Rite Aid Corp (RAD)

Rite Aid Corporation, incorporated in 1968, is a retail drugstore chain in the United States. As of March 3, 2012, the Company operated drugstores in 31 states across the country and in the District of Columbia. As of March 3, 2012, it operated 4,667 stores. In the Company’s stores, it sells prescription drugs and a range of other merchandise, which it calls front end products. During the fiscal year ended March 3, 2012 (fiscal 2012), prescription drug sales accounted for 68.1% of its total sales. The Company carries a range of front end products, which accounted for 31.9% of its total sales in fiscal 2012. Front end products include over-the-counter medications, health and beauty aids, personal care items, cosmetics, household items, beverages, convenience foods, greeting cards, seasonal merchandise and other everyday and convenience products, as well as photo processing. It offers a variety of products under its private brands, which contributed approximately 17% of it s front end sales in the categories where private brand products were offered in fiscal 2012. As of March 3, 2012, the Company had opened over 2,100 GNC stores-within-Rite Aid-stores. During fiscal 2012, the Company sold two owned operating stores to independent third parties.

During fiscal 2012, its stores filled approximately 295 million prescriptions and served an average of 2.1 million customers per day. The overall average size of each store in its chain is approximately 12,600 square feet. As of March 3, 2012, 60% of its stores were freestanding; 51% of its stores included a drive-thru pharmacy; 24% included one-hour photo shops, and 46% included a GNC store-within-Rite Aid-store. The Company’s customers may also order prescription refills over the Internet through www.riteaid.com, or over the phone through its telephonic automated refill systems for pick up at a Rite Aid store. It has a strategic alliance with GNC, a retailer of vitamin and mineral supp lements.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Next week investors will be waiting for several key earnings reports including JP Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) and Family Dollar Stores (NYSE: FDO).

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

    Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) is a turnaround which keeps on turning. That is the theory from Goldman Sachs at least. The brokerage firm upgraded shares of the retail drug store to Buy from Neutral. Perhaps more important is that the price target was raised to $8 from $5 in the call.

  • [By Grace L. Williams]

    Shares of CVS have advanced 2.7% to $68.74 at 3:0 p.m., trailing Walgreen’s (WAG) 5.3% rise to $63.87 but besting Rite Aid’s (RAD) 1.5% gain to $5.72.

  • [By Reuters]

    Julio Cortez/AP NEW YORK — Many U.S. retailers had to ramp up promotions last month as shoppers continued to watch their spending during the holiday season, hitting profits at several chains. L Brands (LB) cut its earnings forecast for the holiday quarter Thursday after reporting disappointing December sales at its Victoria Secret and La Senza chains. The company said it had to offer more deals than expected, the second month in a row it has had to do so. Family Dollar Stores (FDO) and teen retailer Zumiez (ZUMZ), which both reported sales declines for December, also slashed their profit forecasts. Even retailers that saw big sales gains, such as Kay Jewelers parent Signet Jewelers (SIG), weren’t spared. “Additional discounting was necessary in a highly promotional retail environment,” Signet Chief Executive Officer Mike Barnes said in a statement. A group of nine U.S. retailers in the Thomson Reuters same-store sales index are expected Thursday to report a sales rise of 1.9 percent in December at stores open at least a year, well below the 7.2 percent increase of a year earlier. Including drugstore chains Walgreen (WAG) and Rite Aid (RAD), analysts estimate the rise at 2.7 percent. Gap (GPS) will report after the markets close Thursday. Faced with reticent shoppers worried about their job prospects and modest economic growth, retailers offered more discounts during the holiday season than a year earlier. Between Nov. 3 and Jan. 4, eight retailers, including Walmart Stores (WMT), Target (T) and Macy’s (M) , increased the number of circulars published by 6 percent and sent 57 percent more promotional emails, according to data prepared for Reuters by MarketTrack. Retailers also had to deal with shoppers who were less willing to go into stores: Data firm ShopperTrak this week said foot traffic had dropped 14.6 percent this holiday season. Walgreen, whose comparable sales of general merchandise rose 2.5 percent in December, said fewer shoppers had com