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Earnings miss 'a tough one': Macy's CEO

Macy's on Wednesday delivered quarterly earnings and revenue that fell short of expectations, and it cut full-year sales guidance.

"We're going to face the music when we have good quarters [or] bad quarters. And this was a tough one," Macy's Chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren told CNBC's "Squawk Box" moments after the retailer announced second quarter results.

The company earned 64 cents per share, down from 80 cents in the year-earlier period. Revenue fell to $6.1 billion from $6.27 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings per share of 76 cents on revenue of $6.23 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

Macy's shares were down more than 3.5 percent in early trading Wednesday. (Get the latest quote here.)

"The consumer didn't shop in our categories to the degree that we thought the consumer would," Lundgren said, citing slowing tourism as a drag on sales. European, Chinese and Brazilian tourists "are not coming to America, and the strength of the dollar is impacting that."

"Macy's in particular is very well known around the world. So we benefit from that when tourists are here and shopping," he continued. "Most do not have the same benefit or the same hurt that we would have."

Macy's also cut its outlook on total sales for 2015—forecasting an approximate 1 percent decline, compared to previous guidance for growth of about 1 percent.

Shares of Macy's spiked as much as 7.7 percent on July 15—after activist investor Jeffrey Smith said they were worth about $125, nearly double their value at the time. He called for the retailer to split its operating business and real estate holdings.

"We believe there is an opportunity to create two leading companies ... while maintaining the dividend," the Starboard Value CEO and CIO said at the CNBC-Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York City.

Nevertheless, the company's stock has dropped about 8 percent since July 17 based on Tuesday's close.

Lundgren said Wednesday he has not met with Smith personally, but his chief financial officer has and listened to the pitch. "I want to make sure that we're all being thoughtful about this," he said.

"Frankly, I'm a retailer. We try to satisfy consumer demand and think about what's around the corner," he said. "If there's value in our real estate ... we want to go after those opportunities."

Pointing to an example of one of those real estate opportunities, Lundgren touted Macy's other announcement Wednesday: an agreement to sell property in downtown Brooklyn to Tishman Speyer—a move in the works for over a year.

The terms were $170 million in cash and an additional $100 million over the next three years, which will be used as a contribution toward the renovation of the Fulton Street Macy's store.

Macy's will continue to own and operate the first four floors and lower level of its existing store. Tishman will buy the top floors to develop into office space.

"I still own the building," Lundgren said. "I've sold them the top floors that I don't use."

Tishman will also purchase Macy's Hoyt Street parking facility, which could be used for a future mixed-use development.

"By the way, there will be other transactions. We've already been working on other subjects. So there will be other things we'll talk about in the relative near future," he said.

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—CNBC's Fred Imbert and Reuters contributed to this story.