NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Women's apparel retailer Cache Inc. said Friday that it lost more money in its fiscal third quarter than a year earlier, weighed down by lower-than-expected sales and markdowns.

The retailer said, however, that it expects to be profitable in its fourth quarter, as the company adjusts its merchandising strategy heading into the holiday shopping period.

For the period ended Sept. 26, Cache lost $6.8 million, or 53 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.6 million, or 12 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding separation agreement costs of 10 cents per share, Cache posted a 43 cents per share loss.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates normally exclude one-time items, predicted a smaller loss of 20 cents per share.

"We were disappointed with our third-quarter results, which reflected lower-than-expected sales and our decision to accelerate markdowns in anticipation of our new fall and holiday assortments," Chairman and CEO Thomas Reinckens said in a statement.

Sales declined 23 percent, to $44.9 million from $58.1 million last year. The results missed Wall Street's $48.3 million estimate.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key industry figure, fell 21.7 percent. The measurement is an important indicator of retailer performance since it measures growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

Cache anticipates fourth-quarter earnings of 12 cents to 15 cents per share on sales of $62 million to $64 million. The company said its outlook reflects an anticipated low double-digit decline in sales at stores open at least a year. Analysts forecast a profit of 8 cents per share on revenue of $60.9 million.

Shares of Cache closed at $4.94, up 10 cents, on Thursday. The shares were not yet active in premarket trading.

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