Tepid Results From Coldwater

Earnings meet the retailer's lowered projections.
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Coldwater Creek

(CWTR)

posted a slight drop in fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday as results were hurt by poor holiday traffic and markdowns to move merchandise.

The Sandpoint, Idaho-based women's apparel retailer's fourth-quarter profit fell to $15.9 million from $16.4 million a year earlier. Earnings per share were flat at 17 cents due to a higher number of shares outstanding in the recent period.

The earnings matched Thomson Financial's average analyst estimate, as well as Coldwater's lowered guidance.

In January, Coldwater Creek shaved its fourth-quarter earnings targets by a dime a share, citing slow traffic, which it said crimped sales of fashion-knit tops, moleskin pants, jewelry and accessories.

Coldwater's fourth-quarter sales increased 29% to $366.6 million, while same-store sales rose 2.3%. Wall Street expected sales of $343 million.

"Overall, we were pleased with the full-year results, which include reaching the milestone of more than $1 billion in net sales and adding 65 new premium retail stores to meet our goal of 239 locations in operation at year end," Dennis Pence, chairman and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. "We also navigated a challenging fourth-quarter in terms of holiday season traffic, and although additional clearance activity had a negative impact on gross margin, we delivered on our commitment to end the period with a clean and current inventory position."

Coldwater Creek shares were climbing 12 cents to $17.85 in after-hours trading. The stock closed up 2.3% in the regular session.