Shares of Macy's (NYSE: M) were gaining today, leading department store stocks higher, although there was no direct news out on the company. Instead, Macy's and its peers seemed to be benefiting from reports that President Trump wants to "go after" rival Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). As a result, Macy's stock was up 4.3% as of 11:03 a.m. EDT, while Amazon was down 5.7%.
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According to a report on the Axios website based on anonymous sources, Trump wants to change Amazon's tax treatment to curb the company's effect on smaller stores and other retailers. According to this report, Trump has also "wondered aloud" if there's any antitrust law that could be used against Amazon.
Trump has previously ranted against Amazon, in part because of CEO Jeff Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post, which Trump believes often gives him unfavorable coverage.
Macy's is seen as one of Amazon's most direct competitors, especially as the e-commerce giant has stepped up its apparel business and is on track to replace Macy's as the No. 1 apparel retailer in the U.S. Though it's unclear at this point how a potential crackdown on Amazon would benefit Macy's, one possibility is that forcing third-party vendors on Amazon to collect taxes would make the playing field more even, benefiting Macy's and other traditional retailers.
Any attempt by the Trump administration to target Amazon is only likely to have a marginal benefit for Macy's at best. The department store chain has plenty of its own challenges to deal with, including bringing its stores into the e-commerce era and converting more of its merchandise to private label, as it outlined at the recent Shoptalk conference. Ultimately, the Amazon story is likely just noise as far as Macy's investors are concerned.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Jeremy Bowman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.