NEW YORK (
narrowed its loss in the fourth quarter, as it pared back discounting during the holiday season.
During the quarter, Saks lost $4.6 million, or 3 cents a share, compared with a loss of $99.7 million, or 61 cents, for the high-end retailer in the year-ago period.
Excluding items, Saks earned 6 cents a share, better than the loss of 2 cents analysts forecast.
This improvement came predominantly from a significant jump in gross margins, which surged to 36.5% from 21.2%. Saks tightened inventory, cut costs and decreased its promotional levels, which offset a sales decline.
Saks sales slipped 3% to $811.3 million from $839.6 million, while same-store sales dropped 4.8%.
The strongest categories for Saks remain women's designer sportswear and jewelry, while handbags and shoes saw an uptick during the quarter.
Saks CEO Stephen Sadove remains optimistic for the luxury sector, as business becomes more predictable. Still he said that he is approaching 2010 with caution.
In the announcement, Saks said it expects comparable sales growth in the low-to-mid single digit range for the year, with a pickup in the second half.
Saks' results come after
reported last week that its profit more than doubled in its fourth quarter.
But profit for Nordstrom, which reached $172 million, or 77 cents a share, still missed analysts' forecast of 79 cents a share.
Nordstrom's sales increased 10% to $2.54 billion from $2.3 billion, while same-store sales jumped 6.9%.
Looking ahead, Nordstrom expects to earn between $2.35 and $2.55 for the year, with same-store sales increasing between 2% and 4%. Wall Street is looking for earnings of $2.41 a share.
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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