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LNT issues 1Q warning

CLIFTON , N.J. — Hoisting a yellow flag, superstore retailer Linens ’n Things cautioned analysts and investors to expect a first quarter loss, as flagging traffic and weak sales of home textiles generated a slide in same-store sales “in the mid single-digits.”

The company said it expects to record a loss of 8 to 12 cents per share, reversing an earlier forecast of 6 to 9 cents.

Norman Axelrod, chairman and CEO, said, “Our overall sales performance was primarily impacted by a decline in guest traffic. Our fashion textiles business was particularly challenging as we continue to transition our assortments.” The gross margin rate, he said, “remained healthy,” but the overall operating margin — operating profits measured as a percentage of sales — declined on the lower level of sales.

Axelrod emphasized, "Keep in mind, the first quarter represents the smallest portion of our annual sales and earnings, and therefore, we still have the majority of our sales and earnings opportunities ahead of us.”

An unforgiving Wall Street pushed the retailer’s stock down 12 percent or $3.20 per share to $23.10 today.

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