Women's apparel retailer Charming Shoppes ( CHRS) cut its fourth-quarter earnings projection, citing lower-than-expected holiday sales.

The company now expects earnings of 18 cents to 20 cents a share for the quarter ending Feb. 3, down from its prior view of 21 cents to 22 cents. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial have an average estimate for earnings of 21 cents a share.

Charming Shoppes, which operates chains such as Fashion Bug and Lane Bryant, projects fourth-quarter sales of $860 million to $870 million. The company forecasts a same-store sales decline in the low-single digits at its retail stores.

During the nine weeks ended Dec. 30, the key holiday period, same-store sales fell 2%.

Charming Shoppes said it believes that the recent launch of 82 Lane Bryant outlet stores may have hurt its full-line stores. In addition, the company said warmer-than-normal temperatures across the country resulted in tepid sales of items like sweaters and coats.

For all of fiscal 2007, Charming Shoppes sees earnings of 81 cents to 83 cents a share, below its prior target of 84 cents to 85 cents. Wall Street predicts EPS of 84 cents.

Shares of Charming Shoppes were down 40 cents, or 2.9%, to $13.50 in after-hours trading.

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