Sears Sharply Cuts Profit Guidance as Sales Slip

Sears Holdings, the operator of Sears and Kmart, said Monday its fiscal fourth-quarter profit will be well below its year-ago results and current Wall Street forecasts as sales at both chains declined over the last nine weeks.

Sears Holdings said it now expects to earn between $350 million and $470 million, or $2.59 to $3.48 a share, for the three months ending Feb. 2, down from $820 million, or $5.33 a share in the same quarter a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial predicted a profit of $4.43 a share.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 2.8% at Sears and 4.2% at Kmart for the nine weeks ended Jan. 5.

The company said it "experienced lower sales across most categories, with notable declines in the Sears apparel and tools categories and the Kmart seasonal categories."

"We believe that comparable store sales results reflect increased competition and the negative impact of unfavorable economic conditions, such as a weak housing market and consumer credit concerns," Sears Holdings said in a statement.

Shares of Sears Holdings sank more than 9 percent in German trading.