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fell Friday as two analysts downgraded the retailer's stock after the company's lackluster guidance.

The department store chain said late Thursday it earned $143.8 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with $121.2 million, or 35 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Its net sales were up 15% to $2.7 billion from last year's $2.4 billion, and same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, gained 1.2%.

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The results matched Wall Street's estimates after Kohl's recently lowered its EPS forecast for the quarter to 41 cents to 42 cents, down from 41 cents to 44 cents. However, the company forecast its fourth-quarter earnings in a range of 93 cents to 97 cents a share on a same-store sales gain of 1% to 3%. Wall Street's fourth-quarter consensus estimates called for 96 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Shares were recently down $2, or 3.8%, to $51.20, after the stock was downgraded Friday morning by Prudential Securities and Deutsche Bank. Both firms cited an unexpected lack of support from gross margin rates. The 52-week high is $54.10. Shares traded near $41 in mid-July.

(Prudential reports no material conflicts of interest involving the company and the analyst in question, Wayne Hood, does not own shares. Deutsche Bank does have a banking relationship with Kohl's and its analyst, Bill Dreher, does own shares.)

Kohl's said its gross margin rose to 35.9% from 34.1% for the quarter. Also, it introduced several new clothing brands this year to attract new customers, including everGirl, apt. 9 and Chaps.

"We are particularly excited about the customers' response to the new merchandise launches in the third quarter," said Larry Montgomery, Kohl's chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. "We believe we are well-positioned for the holiday season in terms of content and level of inventory, our in-store shopping environment and our marketing and advertising calendar."

Kohl's opened 48 new stores during the quarter, bringing its total store count to 637. It plans to open 95 more stores in fiscal 2005.