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Stage Stores 3Q loss narrows, lifts outlook

HOUSTON (AP) -- Stage Stores' fiscal third-quarter loss narrowed as new brands and promotions helped lift demand.

The department store operator also on Thursday lifted its forecast for the rest of the year, which ends in January.

Stage Stores Inc. also said that it will open its stores on Thanksgiving for the first time, from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Many major retailers, including Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., are opening earlier this year to kick off the holiday shopping season, a crucial period for retailers. The day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday," is the traditional start to the season.

Stage Stores is based in Houston and runs 866 stores in 40 states.

For the period ended Oct. 27, the company lost $8.9 million, or 28 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $11.3 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected a loss of 30 cents per share.

The quarter was helped by a drop in interest expense to $568,000 from $1 million.

Revenue increased 11 percent to $370.6 million from $333.5 million, topping Wall Street's $367.7 million. The company cited strength across all regions and all merchandise categories.

Revenue at stores open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, rose 8.1 percent. This figure excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

The company lifted its adjusted earnings outlook for the year to $1.20 to $1.28 per share from $1.15 to $1.25 per share. It increased its revenue target to $1.63 billion to $1.65 billion from $1.61 billion to $1.62 billion.

Analysts predict $1.29 per share on revenue of $1.64 billion.