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Macy's Q4 a time of good holiday cheer, but chilled January sales

Cincinnati - Macy's home department turned in a mixed performance during the fourth quarter.

While part of housewares and tabletop underperformed, Macy's Inc. said bedding, towels, furniture and mattresses categories were all strong.

During the department store chain's earnings call this morning, cfo Karen Hoguet said furniture and mattresses "were great businesses for us, and we had a very good business in home textiles, sheets and towels."

Still, plagued by harsh weather conditions in January offset some overall strength during the holiday selling period.

"At one time or another during January, 244 Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores were closed because of weather," said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and ceo.

Sales in the 13-week quarter declined 1.6% to $9.20 billion from $9.350 billion in the 14-week fourth quarter of 2012. Comps were up 1.4%; coupled with sales from departments licensed to third parties, comps increased 2.3%.

In the November/December period, comparable sales were up by 3.6%.

Quarterly operating income totaled $1.35 billion, or 14.7% of sales, compared with $1.39 billion, or 14.9 % of sales, a year ago, and earnings were $2.16 per diluted share compared to $1.83.

Previously announced store closing impacted the bottom line by $88 million.

For the 52-week year, sales ticked up 0.9% to $27.93 billion from $27.69 billion in the 53 weeks of fiscal 2012. Comps for the year rose 1.9%; together with sales from departments licensed to third parties, comps were up 2.8 %.

For the 52-weeks fiscal 2013, Macy's operating income totaled $2.678 billion, or 9.6% of sales, versus $2.661 billion, or 9.6% of sales in the 53-weeks fiscal 2012, and earnings were $3.86 per diluted share versus $3.24.

Hoguet noted the period marked ""our fifth consecutive year of double-digit growth in earnings per share, starting in 2009 when we restructured the company and began implementing our M.O.M. strategies."

Fiscal 2013 also represents Macy's fourth consecutive year of comparable sales growth, added Lundgren.

New Macy's stores to open this year are planned for: Sarasota, Fla.; Las Vegas; and The Bronx, N.Y. Also, a new Bloomingdale's will open in Palo Alto, Calif, to replace an older store in the same shopping center.

Also in the works now is the roll-out of the recently tested "buy online, pick up in store" program."

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