Clothing retailer Cato says Sept. sales down 4 pct

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cato Corp., a women's clothing store, said on Thursday that a key measure of September revenue fell 4 percent, and it said its third-quarter earnings will be at the low end of its guidance.

The industry considers revenue at stores open at least a year a good indicator of retail health because it strips out the ups-and-downs of newly opened or closed stores.

John Cato, the company's chairman, president, and CEO, said revenue for the five weeks that ended Sept. 29 "reflect a minimal negative impact from Hurricane Isaac and were mostly in line with our year-to-date trend." Isaac struck Louisiana's coast in late August.

Company revenue for September rose 1 percent to $70.7 million.

It predicted third-quarter earnings per share would be at the lower end of its previous guidance of 12 cents to 17 cents per share.

Cato runs its namesake stores as well as Versona and It's Fashion, with a focus on women and girls. At the end of September it operated 1,302 stores in 31 states, up from 1,287 stores at the same time last year.

Its shares closed at $29.60 in trading Wednesday.