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Stage Stores reports Sept. sales, comps drop


HOUSTON Stage Stores reported a net sales decrease of 9.6% for the five week September period ended Oct. 4, to $115.5 million from $127.8 million in 2007. Comparable-store sales decreased 13.6%, versus an increase of 2.3% last year.

"September was an extremely challenging month as hurricanes Gustav and Ike caused significant disruptions to our business," stated chairman and ceo Jim Scarborough. "With 53 stores closed during Hurricane Gustav and 121 stores closed during Hurricane Ike, we estimate that these two storms resulted in lost sales of approximately $9.1 million, of which $8.4 million was lost in September. Adjusting for the estimated lost sales, our comparable-store sales for September were down 7.7%.

"With our comparable-store sales down 11% after the first two months of the quarter, and taking into consideration all of the recent national economic turbulence and the headwinds facing consumers, we now estimate that our third-quarter comparable-store sales will be down high-single to low-double digits versus our original guidance of down 1% to 3%," continued Scarborough. "As a result of the anticipated sales shortfall and the increased pressure on our gross margin to drive sales, we expect third-quarter earnings to significantly miss the low end of our original earnings guidance of a loss of 1 cent to a profit of 5 cents per diluted share."

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