Zale Corp., North America's largest jewelry retailer, warned that fourth-quarter earnings will fall far short of Wall Street expectations as sales at stores open at least a year dropped nearly 10% in the period.
The jewelry retailer said that earnings for the three months ended July 31 will be 5 to 10 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected earnings of 17 cents a share.
Zale's sluggish sales performance compares with a 6.4% gain a year ago in sales at stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales. Same-store sales are the best indicator of a retailer's health.
The company, whose chains include Gordon's Jewelers and Zale's, said total sales rose nearly 10% to $410.4 million.
Zale is scheduled to release financial results Aug. 30. Its shares fell 71 cents to $31.18 on the New York Stock Exchange.