Kohl's key Dec. sales measure rises 3.4 pct.

Kohl's posts 3.4 pct. growth in key December sales metric, cuts 4Q and FY profit guidance

Associated Press

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. (AP) -- Kohl's Corp. said Thursday that December sales at stores open at least a year increased 3.4 percent, beating Wall Street predictions. But the retailer added that the growth came from heavy discounts and it cut its profit outlook for the current quarter and full year.

Analysts, on average, expected an increase of 1.2 percent in Kohl's comparable-store sales in December. That data is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes sales at stores that recently opened or closed.

For the five-week period ended Dec. 31, the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based company said total sales rose 4 percent to $3.37 billion. Online sales jumped 46 percent.

Kohl's said its December sales were lower than it expected. In addition the bulk of the sales came late in the holiday season with deeper discounts than originally planned.

For both the quarter- and year-to-date, sales at stores open at least a year were basically flat. Total sales rose 0.7 percent to $5.21 billion for the quarter to date and increased 1 percent to $18.15 billion for the year to date.

Citing its results so far this quarter, Kohl's cut its fourth-quarter profit guidance to a range of $1.60 to $1.62 per share from previous guidance of $2 to $2.08 per share, and its fiscal-year guidance to a range of $4.11 to $4.13 per share from $4.52 to $4.60 per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect per-share profits of $1.93 and $4.43 for the quarter and year, respectively.

Kohl's shares rose 17 cents to $42.38 in morning trading.

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