Cato's key December sales figure falls 4 percent

Retailer Cato say key December sales figure down 4 percent; cuts earnings outlook

Associated Press

Cato trimmed its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings expectations Thursday after weak holiday sales in December.

The clothing store said sales at stores open at least a year fell 4 percent in the five weeks ending Jan. 4 compared with the same period a year before. The measure is considered a key indicator a retailer's financial health because it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores.

The weak sales were due to "bad weather in a number of our markets early in the month," said Cato CEO John Cato.

Total sales during the period fell 3 percent to $100.1 million.

Cato cut its guidance for the quarter that runs through January, during the holiday shopping period. It now expects earnings between 11 cents per share and 15 cents per share, down from its prior forecast between 17 cents per share and 23 cents per share.

It cut its full-year earnings outlook to between $1.84 per share and $1.88 per share from its previous forecast between $1.90 per share and $1.96 per share.

The company, which is based in Charlotte, N.C., operates over 1,300 stores under the Cato, Versona and It's Fashion names.

Shares of The Cato Corp. closed at $31.20 Wednesday.

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