Kmart Posts Wider Loss as Sales Slump

TROY, Mich. -- Bankrupt discount retailer Kmart Corp. on Monday reported a wider quarterly loss as store closings cut into sales, and gave a mixed outlook for the critical holiday sales period.

The retailer said it lost $383 million, or 76 cents per share, in the fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 30, compared with a restated loss of $249 million, or 50 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Net sales were $6.73 billion, compared with $8.02 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Kmart closed 283 underperforming stores earlier this year.

Kmart, which hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by summer, said earlier this month it was restating financial results from 1999 to 2002 due to errors in how it recorded leases and payments to vendors, but stressed the changes would not hurt liquidity.

Excluding noncomparable items, discontinued operations and reorganization items, the company's net loss was $390 million, or 78 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $152 million, or 31 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2001.

Kmart said quarterly sales at stores open at least one year -- or same-store sales -- fell 7.6 percent, while October same-store sales slipped 3.9 percent.

For November, it reported a steep 17.2 percent drop in same-store sales, hurt by a late Thanksgiving that pushed demand into December. Kmart lost $40 million for the month, on sales of $2.47 billion.

Kmart's fiscal period ends on the last Wednesday of the month, so November's results did not include the Thanksgiving weekend shopping period, which was counted in last year's tally. As a result, it forecast December's sales would improve from November's.

"The company's performance over Thanksgiving weekend was encouraging," Julian Day, president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "The post-Thanksgiving period also started strong, but sales in the last two weeks have been softer than we had anticipated."

Shares of Kmart, which were delisted last week from the New York Stock Exchange, were down fractionally at 29.9 cents in morning trading on the Pink Sheets electronic system.
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