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American Eagle says key holiday sales falls 7 pct

The Associated Press

American Eagle reported weak sales from the holiday shopping season and reduced its fourth-quarter expectations to the low end of its previous outlook.

The teen retailer said Thursday that sales at stores open at least a year fell 7 percent in the nine 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.

After a "solid" Thanksgiving weekend, sales through Christmas slowed down as other retailers offered more promotions, American Eagle CEO Robert Han said.

Total sales in the same period fell 2 percent to $882 million from $904 a year ago.

American Eagle said it now expects earnings in the fourth quarter, which runs through January, of 26 cents per share. That's at the low end of its previous guidance between 26 cents per share and 30 cents per share. American Eagle will release its full fourth-quarter results on March 11.

The company, which is based in Pittsburgh, operates over 1,000 stores around the world.

Shares of American Eagle Outfitters Inc. rose 31 cents, or 2 percent, to $15.34 in morning trading Thursday.