Federated Department Stores

(FD)

posted higher-than-expected third-quarter profits and reaffirmed its guidance for the fourth quarter.

The parent company of Macy's and Bloomingdale's said Wednesday its earned $74 million, or 42 cents per share, for the quarter, compared with $67 million, or 36 cents per share, for the same period last year. Analysts were expecting a profit of 39 cents a share.

"The stronger trend we saw in October in markets across the country was encouraging," said Terry Lundgren, Federated's chairman, president and chief executive, in a statement. "We also experienced a post-hurricane sales recovery in Florida, although not enough to offset the negative impact in September."

The company reiterated its estimates for the fourth quarter, predicting earnings somewhere between $2.45 and $2.55 a share. It thinks same-store sales, or sales at stores open for at least a year, will increase from 0.4% in the third quarter to between 1.5% and 3% in the fourth quarter. In November, the company is looking for same-store sales to be flat to up 2%, while December comps will benefit from two extra pre-Christmas shopping days this year, powering comps to add 1% to 3%.

Third-quarter sales totaled $3.491 billion, an increase of 0.2% from last year's $3.486 billion. Federated's operating income totaled $175 million, or 5% of sales, including store closing costs and other charges of $36 million.

During the quarter, Federated repurchased 7.4 million shares for $336 million, and its new store openings included a Rich's-Macy's at Arbor Place Mall in Douglasville, GA, and a Macy's in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.