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Zale Earnings: Not a Pretty Picture

Zale reports a larger loss in its fourth quarter, hurt by store-closure charges and weak same-store sales.



) -- Finally, after two delays,



reported its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday evening, and it wasn't a pretty picture.

The jeweler significantly widened its loss, hurt by charges related to store closures and sluggish same-store sales.

During the quarter, the company recorded a loss of $89.8 million, or $2.81 per share, compared with a loss of $10 million, or 30 cents, in the year-ago period.

Excluding store closure charges of $70.8 million, or $2.22 a share, Zale actually lost 48 cents a share, beating Wall Street's estimates of a loss of $1.00.

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Revenue sank 22% to $357.1 million from $456.2 million, while same-store sales plunged 21.2%.

While CEO Neal Goldberg admits that the company has had a difficult year, he says he expects to see an improvement after shuttering more than 200 under-performing stores and cutting other costs.

Still, the company did not provide guidance of the all-important holiday season.

Zale previously postponed reporting quarterly results after discovering it needed to review its accounting on prepaid advertising costs.

The jeweler said the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating these accounting issues, which sent shares plunging 21.6% to $5.01 in early afternoon trading.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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