The Bombay Company

shares fell 12% after the home-furnishings retailer lowered fourth-quarter earnings guidance because December sales were lower than it expected.

The company is now forecasting earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 3 of 29 cents to 33 a share, down from a previous estimate of 34 cents to 41 cents a share. The consensus estimate is for 37 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Same-store sales increased 3%, although its U.S outlets suffered a decline. Margins were also hurt by high promotional costs.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company still expects earnings growth of 40% to 50% in 2004 even with flat or low single-digit increase in same-store sales.

Bombay Company operates about 480 stores in the U.S. and elsewhere and said it still plans on opening 20 to 25 new ones in 2004.

Recently, shares were off 94 cents, or 12%, to $6.89.