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Sears Earnings Fall 14% But Beat Estimates


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, the nation's second-largest retailer, announced a 14% decrease in fourth-quarter operating earnings this morning. Still, Sears' results bettered analysts' expectations.

The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based company reported that net income in the fourth quarter fell to $639 million, or $1.91 cents a share, compared with $740 million, or $1.98 cents a share for the same period one year ago. The company said results were squashed due to a slowing economy and higher business operating costs.

A consensus estimate of analysts compiled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

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was for a fourth-quarter profit of $1.86 a share.

Sears also said fourth-quarter earnings exclude the costs associated with closing of 89 stores and the cutting 2,400 jobs. Including these costs, net income was $442 million or $1.32 a share.

Shares of Sears were up 60 cents, or 1.7% to $35.35 in trading just after the bell on the

New York Stock Exchange