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Stage Stores, Inc. (SSI) recently joined the brigade of retailers warning about the holiday season. This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Buy) lowered fiscal 2013 guidance below the Zacks Consensus.

Stage Stores has a unique niche in the retail industry in that it operates 887 stores under the names of Bealls, Goody's, Palais Royal, Peebles, Stage and Steele in small and mid-sized towns in 40 states. It sells brand name apparel, accessories, cosmetics and footwear for the entire family.

Lowered Full Year Guidance

On Jan 13, Stage Stores reported holiday sales for the nine week Nov and Dec period ending Jan 4, 2014. Comparable store sales fell 1.5%.

Because the holiday was highly promotional, margins were impacted. The company reduced its earnings guidance to the range of $1.10 to $1.15 from its previous guidance of $1.20 to $1.30.

"We were pleased with our strong sales in early November and during Thanksgiving and Black Friday. However, traffic slowed in the weeks leading to Christmas and we were not able to maintain our early positive sales trend," said Michael Glazer, President and Chief Executive Officer.

The Zacks Consensus was looking for $1.26, which was in the middle of the last guidance range. Analysts will inevitably be lowering estimates to fit within the new guidance range.

Stage Stores made $1.33 in Fiscal 2012 so the earnings decline will be in the double digits.

Analysts have been bearish on Fiscal 2014 as well. 3 estimates have been lowered in the last 60 days as the Zacks Consensus has fallen to $1.50 from $1.59 in that time.

Shares Slide

Stage Stores has missed on the Zacks Consensus 4 consecutive quarters. It is scheduled to report fourth quarter results on March 6.

Investors have been bearish for months. Shares slid in the second half of 2013.

Investors interested in the retail sector should consider Finish Line Inc. (FINL). It's a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Analysts expect double digit earnings growth this year and next year.

Source: Zacks' Bear Of The Day: Stage Stores