CINCINNATI-Macy’s Inc. same-store sales figures, down 0.8% in the third quarter and projected to range from negative 2% to positive 1% for the fourth quarter, helped send the company’s stock down more than 7% to $28.47 per share at the end of the day Wednesday. While the company bemoaned slow consumer spending and tough integration of former Marshall Field’s department stores during its Q3 conference call Wednesday, the company also had some positive news, reporting a net income profit of $33 million, or 8 cents per share, compared to 3 cents per share in Q3 2006.

The company is following current wary retail thinking, and is deferring a $1 billion stock buyback plan. “Given the current conditions in the credit markets, we are carefully evaluating our options,” said Karen Hoguet, CFO and EVP, during the conference call. “While we are optimistic about our prospects, and we believe the stock today represents a great value, we do need to balance this with the benefits of preserving access to all financial markets during these volatile times.”

Hoguet also said she expects same store sales to be up in November, with the early Thanksgiving holiday, and then down in December, as compared to a year ago. However, she said the company is well-prepared for the fourth quarter. “Our inventories are in good shape,” she said. “We have a lot of newness in the stores, including the Martha Stewart Collection. The marketing for both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s is fresh and compelling, representing a balance of brand and promotional messages. We believe we have all the ammunition in place to compete successfully through the season.”

During the third quarter, the company opened four stores and closed one. Macy’s opened stores in Northridge and Brea, CA and Portland, OR, and closed a store in Columbus. Bloomingdale’s opened a store in Chevy Chase, MD. Hoguet said that there are no store openings planned for the fourth quarter, and she would not comment on closings during that period. The new store count planned for 2008 is “around six or seven new stores,” she said during the call. The company operates more than 850 department stores in 45 states, Washington DC, Guam and Puerto Rico. Prior to June 1, the company was called Federated Department Stores Inc.

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