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LNT plunges into the red

CLIFTON, N.J. -- Hobbled by sliding same-store sales, a big jump in costs and swelling stockpiles, Linens 'n Things, as it had forecast, recorded a second quarter loss of $5.9 million compared with a small year-before profit of $97,000.

It was the second straight quarterly loss for the retailer, bringing its six-month total loss to $10 million. The retailer would have lost even more but for a $3.6 million income tax benefit during the quarter, and a $6 million benefit for the six months. Without the boost provided by the tax gain, the quarterly loss totaled $9.5 million, with a six-month loss of $16 million.

Sales at the big-box home fashions specialist slipped 0.9 percent, to $573.3 million from $578.7 million, and would have fallen further but for new store openings. Same-store sales dropped off 6.8 percent. For the first six months of the year, sales edged up 1.1 percent, to $1.1 billion, but same-store sales declined 6.1 percent.

Focusing on the turn-around promised for the back half, Wall Street shrugged off the second quarter loss, pushing the retailer's stock up $0.46 a share, or 1.8 percent, to $26.05 in mid-day trading.

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