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Cato (CATO) Dec Comps Down 7 Pct; Cuts Q4, 2012 Profit View

 January 03, 2013 08:11 AM


(By Balaseshan) Cato Corp. (NYSE: CATO) said its same-store sales for the month of December decreased 7%, and the women's fashion specialty retailer lowered its earnings guidance for the fourth quarter and full year 2012.

Sales for the five weeks ended December 29, 2012 declined 4% to $103.3 million from $107.5 million for the five weeks ended December 31, 2011.

The company's year-to-date same-store sales declined 3%. Sales for the eleven months ended December 29, 2012 were $870.0 million, flat to last year's results.

Looking ahead into the fourth quarter, the company reduced its earnings guidance to range of $0.34 to $0.36 per share from previous forecast of $0.38 to $0.42 per share. The revised guidance is in line with last year's reported earnings of $0.35 per share.

[Related -Cato (CATO) Q4 Earnings Drop 22 Pct On Lower Same-Store Sales]

For the full year, the company lowered its profit outlook to range of $2.17 to $2.19 per share from previous estimate of $2.22 to $2.26 per share. The revised forecast is lower than last year's reported earnings of $2.21 per share.

Cato closed one store during December. As of December 29, 2012, the company operated 1,311 stores in 31 states, compared to 1,287 stores in 31 states as of December 31, 2011.

The company said its earnings expectations now reflects the estimated tax benefit of the extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit by The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

In addition, Cato's fourth quarter 2012 includes 14 weeks compared to 13 weeks in 2011 and fiscal year 2012 includes 53 weeks compared to 52 weeks in 2011. Earnings guidance for both the fourth quarter and year reflects the impact of the additional week.

[Related -Dividend Roundup: MGA, RRC, LNC, PNM, XCO, NX, CATO]

CATO closed Wednesday's regular session down 1.57% at $27. The stock has been trading between $23.46 and $32.32 for the past 52 weeks.

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