Retail's latest jolts: Warning from Best Buy, loss at Macy's

Macy's m officials announced quarterly earnings Wednesday and, along with Best Buy, bby made dire sales predictions for the coming months following a worse-than-expected October.

"We are increasingly concerned that we won't see the improvement that we had anticipated as recently as a month ago," said Macy's CFO Karen Hoguet in an analysts conference call.

Macy's earnings were better than analysts expected, even if hardly good news. Macy's, which also owns the more upscale Bloomingdale's chain, had a loss of $44 million, or 10 cents a share, for the third quarter, compared with profit of $33 million, or 8 cents a share, a year earlier. Same-store sales were down 6% for the quarter.

Best Buy, meanwhile, slashed its fiscal 2009 earnings outlook and now says its earnings per share will likely be between $2.30 and $2.90 for the fiscal year ending in February, down from its previous estimate of $3.25 to $3.40 a share.

"Since mid-September, rapid, seismic changes in consumer behavior have created the most difficult climate we've ever seen," said Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson.

Despite Circuit City's cc announcement Monday that it's seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and Best Buy's grim forecast, the consumer electronics outlook is actually a bit rosier than for many other discretionary types of purchases.

The Consumer Electronics Association predicts 3.5% growth in consumer electronics shipments this holiday season, which tops the National Retail Federation's (NRF) projected 2.2% increase in holiday sales.

Contributing: Reuters

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