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UPDATE 1-Macy's says quarter is off to a slow start

Feb 25 (Reuters) - Macy's Inc on Tuesday said sales in its new fiscal year were off to a slow start, coming on the heels of a dip in January, and the department store operator's shares fell nearly 2 percent.

The company said comparable sales, which include those online and at stores open at least a year, rose 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1 as the decline in January partly offset a strong holiday season for the Macy's chain.

Macy's, which also owns the high-end Bloomingdale's chain, blamed the January results partly on snowy and cold weather in much of the United States and said the trends had continued into February.

"The business remained sluggish until Valentine's Day," Macy's Chief Executive Officer Terry Lundgren said in a statement, adding that the company was watching sales trends closely.

Macy's reiterated its forecast for a profit of $4.40 to $4.50 per share and comparable sales growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent in the fiscal year that started this month.

For the fourth quarter, Macy's reported net income of $811 million, or $2.16 a share, compared with $730 million, or $1.83 per share, a year earlier.

Macy's shares were down 1.6 percent at $52.20 in premarket trading.