Stage Stores posts smaller 3rd-qtr loss

AP News
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Posted: Nov 19, 2009 1:27 PM

Department store operator Stage Stores Inc. said Thursday it posted a smaller third-quarter loss, as cutting costs and managing inventory improved its bottom line.

The company posted a loss of $7.3 million, or 19 cents per share, compared with a bigger loss of $102.8 million, or $2.66 per share, a year earlier.

Last year's third-quarter results included a noncash charge of $95.4 million, or $2.47 per share. Excluding that, the company lost $7.4 million, or 19 cents per share.

Revenue for the quarter fell to $324.9 million from $333.8 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a loss of 21 cents per share and revenue of $324.8 million for the quarter that ended Oct. 31.

Andy Hall, president and chief executive, said cost-cutting boosted the company's gross margin. Sales at stores open more than a year also improved, Hall said.

Looking ahead, Stage Stores raised its fourth-quarter sales forecast for stores open more than a year, considered a key measure of a retailer's health. It now expects a decline between 4 percent and 7 percent compared with a year earlier. It previously forecast a decline between 5 percent and 8 percent.

Stage Stores raised its fourth-quarter earnings per share outlook to a range between 56 cents per share and 66 cents, up from 54 cents to 65 cents per share. The company expects fourth-quarter revenue between $429 million and $442 million.

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Analysts forecast fourth-quarter earnings of 62 cents per share on $432.9 million in revenue.

For the full fiscal year, Stage Stores expects sales at stores open more than a year to decline between 7 percent and 8 percent and for revenue to come in between $1.43 billion and $1.44 billion.

It expects to earn between 59 cents and 69 cents per share, up from 47 cents to 65 cents share.

Analysts expect 63 cents in profit per share on $1.43 billion in revenue.

The company's shares declined 25 cents, or 2 percent, to $12.09 in midday trading.