Federated Shareholders OK Name Change to Macy's

Federated Department Stores Inc. (FD) said Friday that shareholders approved a plan to change its corporate name to Macy's Inc. as of June 1, moving to boost awareness of its flagship chain.

The parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's will start trading under the ticker symbol "M" on the New York Stock Exchange on June 1.

Macy's represents about 90 percent of Federated's revenue.

Since acquiring May Department Stores in 2005, Federated has about 800 stores that operate under the Macy's name. But this week, it reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings, citing "disappointing" sales at the more than 400 former May stores converted to the Macy's nameplate last year.

The Cincinnati company said it would step up television advertising and some promotions in an effort to spur traffic at the former May stores as competition increases. For example, department-store rival J.C. Penney Co. Inc. has publicly stated that it is out to lure shoppers of the former May stores.

"Federated has had a lot of issues to deal with with the whole consolidation, and I think part of that has come back to affect sales across the board," Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman Retail Leasing, said Thursday.

"It's going to take another quarter or two to see them come back strong. I think they will," Consolo added.

Federated originally planned to ask investors to change its name to Macy's Group Inc. but simplified that to Macy's Inc. when it learned it could have the coveted single-letter stock symbol.

The New York Stock Exchange was long thought to be saving the "M" symbol to lure Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) away from rival Nasdaq.

"That has been a matter of speculation, something we have not had to address," New York Stock Exchange spokesman Christiaan Brakman said in March. "'M' will be for Macy's."

The symbol "M" has been unused since 1989, when it represented Texas bank holding company M Corp., which went under that year.

Federated, which held its annual meeting Friday, also said its board declared a 2 percent increase in the quarterly cash dividend to 13 cents per outstanding common share, up from 12.75 cents. The new dividend will be paid on July 2 to holders of record on June 15.