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Kohl's goes cold in 3Q

Menomonee Falls, WI — In a reversal of fortune, the seemingly unstoppable Kohl's cut back its earnings forecast for the third quarter, reporting that transaction levels have declined and deep discounts on women's apparel had failed to clean inventories.

Comps for October stumbled badly, resulting in an 11.6 percent decline vs. an 18.3 percent gain in October 2002. Comps for the third quarter ended Nov. 1 declined 1.3 percent.

Average transaction per store this year has decreased 5.9 percent on a comp-store basis, the company said in a recorded call. The average transaction value on a comp basis during the month of October dropped 5.7 percent. Inventory levels are up 17 percent over last year.

"The transaction value was substantially impacted by lower sales of higher ticket items such as outerwear and sweaters this year vs. last year," the company reported.

All business segments were up against double-digit comp increases. Although home, shoes and accessories performed "significantly" better than apparel, all were down on a comp basis.

Kohl's now expects to report EPS for the quarter of 35 cents, a decided drop from an earlier estimate of 44 cents and well below analysts' expectations of 42 cents.

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