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Stein Mart sees strength in home

Jacksonville, FL — Linens and gifts both saw double-digit increases at Stein Mart during the third quarter, and the home area was the "strongest and most consistent business," Gwen Manto, executive vp, merchandising, said during the company's third quarter conference call this morning.

"The emphasis on fashion and coordination across both these zones drove the increases," Manto added.

Decorative gift, ceramics and fashion bedding were the quarter's best performers, she said, and luxury looks and high price points continue to be strengths. "As interest and attention on the home continues, our customers will continue to focus on decor and interior enhancements."

Stein Mart also discussed its smaller-format Collections store in Rolling Hills, CA, which opened less than a month ago. "We are pleased with its acceptance," said Mike Fisher, president and coo. He added that two to three more smaller-format stores will open in 2003. The company will also return to a more "normal" store-opening schedule next year, with 25 units planned.

For the third quarter of 2002, the company incurred a net loss of $3.8 million, or $0.09 per share, as compared to a net loss of $5.8 million, or $0.14 per share, during the third quarter of 2001. Net sales were $332.8 million, a 9.4 percent increase over the $304.4 million in 2001. Comps increased 2.2 percent.

Company management added that it expects comp-store sales to increase approximately 2 percent during the fourth quarter of 2002, which would result in earnings of $0.30 to $0.35 per share for the quarter, as compared to $0.22 per share in the fourth quarter of last year.

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