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Saks Fifth Avenue


reported a wider second-quarter loss Tuesday, citing a decline in gross margins due to an increase in promotions.

Shares of the company were falling 26 cents, or 2.12%, to $11.99 recently.

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In the quarter ended Aug. 2, the company lost $25.8 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with a loss of $20.4 million, or 14 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Included in the results were gains totaling $2.7 million related to the sale of closed stores.

Excluding the gains, the company lost 20 cents a share, matching analysts' consensus estimate.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based company said gross margins declined 20 basis points and expenses increased $10 million, reflecting a $16 million reduction in contribution from its credit card unit.

Total sales were $1.24 million, flat with the same period a year earlier. Consolidated comparable store sales fell 0.6%.

"While the forecasting of near-term operating results remains difficult, we are cautiously optimistic regarding improvement in sales and operating performance trends in the second half of 2003," said Chief Executive R. Brad Martin. Analysts see earnings of 2 cents a share in the third quarter and 63 cents a share in the fourth.