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Wet Seal Oct. key revenue metric drops 7.6 pct

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. (AP) -- Wet Seal's revenue at stores open at least a year dropped 7.6 percent in October, but the teen retailer managed to beat Wall Street's expectations of a 10.7-percent decline.

This figure is a key indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

The Foothill Ranch, Calif., company, which is struggling to turn around its business, also said Thursday that it now expects a third-quarter loss of 13 cents per share, before the impact of writing down the value of its assets. Its prior forecast was for a loss of 13 cents to 16 cents per share, and analysts polled by FactSet expect a 14-cent loss.

Wet Seal Inc. last month replaced its chairman and three other directors with nominees from an activist investor, Clinton Group, which has been unhappy with the chain's performance. The chief merchandising officer for the Wet Seal division also left. Wet Seal also runs Arden B stores.

In the four weeks through Oct. 27, revenue at stores open at least a year dropped 6.9 percent at Wet Seal shops and 11.5 percent for Arden B stores. Online sales, which are not included the metric, rose 9.8 percent. Total revenue dropped 5.1 percent to $38.5 million.

For the fiscal third quarter, which ended in October, revenue at stores open at least a year fell 13.5 percent, compared with a decline of nearly 1 percent in the same months last year. Online sales rose 8.7 percent, while total revenue declined 10.9 percent to $135.5 million.