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Investors ripped

Jones Apparel


shares Friday as the company slashed earnings guidance after a difficult fourth quarter.

The Pennsylvania-based apparel maker said it now anticipates fourth-quarter earnings of 28 cents to 30 cents a share, below its previous EPS guidance of 40 cents to 45 cents. For all of 2004, EPS is now seen at $2.39 to $2.41, down from $2.51 to $2.56. Revenue is expected to hit $4.65 billion.

The consensus estimates are EPS of 43 cents and $2.54, respectively, and revenue of $4.60 billion, according to Thomson First Call.

"While we anticipated a very challenging fourth quarter, the environment proved to be more difficult than expected," the company said. "Most challenging was a higher level of promotions experienced by our retail customers than we anticipated."

The company said its "cautious outlook" also means a lowering of full-year 2005 EPS guidance from $3.00 to $3.10 to $2.75 to $2.90.

Shares were trading at $33.00, down $3.55, or 9.7%, in premarket trading.