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expects its earnings for the fiscal first quarter to fall short of analysts' consensus estimate and said the clearance of spring goods in April put pressure on its merchandise margins.

The company said it earned 29 cents to 30 cents a share for the quarter, adding that it still expects earnings for the full year of $1.41 to $1.45 a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are looking for a profit of 34 cents in the first quarter and $1.42 for the fiscal year.

Gap's same-store sales for April decreased 5% from last year. For the quarter ended April 30, total company net sales were $3.6 billion, down 1% from the same period a year ago. First-quarter same-store sales fell 4%.

The company now expects inventory per square foot at the end of the first quarter to be up in the mid-single digits on a percentage-point basis vs. last year, driven primarily by the timing associated with the early receipt of merchandise.