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Cato key sales figure falls 8 percent in January

The Associated Press

The Cato Corp. said Thursday reported that a key sales figure was hurt in January by harsh winter weather that kept shoppers away from its stores.

The clothing retailer said sales at stores open at least a year fell 8 percent last month, compared to the same period the year before. Sales at stores open at least a year is considered a key indicator of a retailer's financial health because it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores.

Total sales for the four-week period ended Feb. 1 fell 25 percent to $48.1 million from $63.8 million in the five-week period ended Feb. 2, 2013.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, revenue fell 7 percent to $215.5 million from $232 million.

2013 revenue fell 2 percent to $910.8 million from $933.8 million in 2012.

Cato stuck by its previous earnings guidance for the fourth quarter and full year. It still expects earnings between 11 cents and 15 cents per share in the fourth quarter and 2014 earnings between $1.84 and $1.88 per share. The company will release quarterly and full-year results March 20.

Cato, based in Charlotte, N.C., runs 1,320 stores nationwide. Besides its namesake stores, it also owns stores under the Versona and It's Fashion names.

Cato's shares added 36 cents to $27.36 in morning trading.