7-Eleven ( SE - Get Report) said Monday it expects first-quarter per-share earnings to range between a loss of a penny or the gain of a penny, well short of the 8-cents-a-share consensus estimate of three analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial. The company earned 5 cents a share in the year-ago quarter.

The Dallas-based chain of convenience stores said it has been hurt by a slowdown in consumer spending, a "difficult" gasoline market and increased utility costs, especially in California, which could result in a $6 million pre-tax reduction in earnings. 7-Eleven said it expects no improvement in these trends in the second quarter.

Separately, the company said its same-store sales rose 3.6% in February. Total sales were $486.3 million, up from $480.3 million in the year-ago period. Increases in pre-paid telephone cards, non-carbonated beverages, beer and wine, fresh foods, produce and coffee accounted for the rise, the company said.

Recently on the New York Stock Exchange, 7-Eleven fell 32 cents, or 3.2%, to $9.59.