Linens 'n Things ( LIN) warned of a poor third-quarter performance and put itself on the block.

The Clifton, N.J., housewares retailer said it would post a break-even third quarter, a sharp disappointment for a company expected by Wall Street to make 29 cents a share for the period. Linens 'n Things said same-store sales would drop 10% for the quarter.

"While we expected our performance for this quarter to be difficult, we had not anticipated the significant declines in guest traffic that occurred," said CEO Norman Axelrod. "Response to our Back-to-School assortments proved disappointing, as our fashion content was too narrow in appeal and we did not make the kind of progress that we expected in strengthening our value proposition with our guests."

"While our business has not performed well during this quarter, our balance sheet remains strong, leaving us well-positioned as we head into the balance of this year," said finance chief William Giles.

Linens 'n Things also said it's exploring strategic alternatives including a possible sale. The company hired Credit Suisse First Boston as its adviser.

Late Thursday, shares of Linens 'n Things fell 14 cents to $26.26.

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