There are a handful of savvy retailers that prepared for the tough economy by positioning themselves to profit - and now they're being rewarded with blockbuster earnings.
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So far this earnings season, more than half of retailers have beat analysts' estimates for same-store sales, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.
These earnings season winners have streamlined inventories and catered to the consumers who are still spending - and the efforts have paid off. They're exceeding sales expectations, watching their stocks climb, and are expected to continue the streak in future quarters - meaning profit opportunities for investors.
Here are the companies coming out on top of the retail sector.
Discounters Deliver ProfitsDiscount retailers continue to profit from price-conscious consumers, and many chains saw a solid boost from a healthy back-to-school shopping season.
"Despite being buffeted by the winds of inflation, [Hurricane] Irene and unemployment, this back-to-school season was the best since 2006," Craig Johnson, president of retail consultant Customer Growth Partners, told Reuters.
One of the best performing discount retailers so far has been Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO), which reported record sales and earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Aug. 27. Net sales for the quarter were up 9.1% from the year before to $2.13 billion, with sales totaling $5.55 billion for the whole year.