Although we are only one month into the second quarter, we are concerned by the May sales trend, ... We are hopeful that more seasonably warm weather in June, combined with the boost to the economy from lower interest rates and anticipated federal tax rebates, will trigger a strengthening of sales as we move into the summer. Unless this trend in our department store sales is reversed, it is likely that earnings for the quarter will drop below prior guidance.
This was a solid third quarter for Federated, propelled by strong sales and earnings in our department store segment and a level of performance in our direct-to-customer catalog and e-commerce businesses that was in line with what we had anticipated, ... We are entering the fourth quarter with our inventories in good shape, and we remain optimistic that it will be a good retail Christmas season.
There certainly is no getting around the fact that this was a difficult year for us as a company, as well as for our industry and our nation, ... Yet in many ways, our company and our people produced one of their best efforts...making the most of every opportunity in a recessionary economy and recovering some momentum in the fourth quarter so that the company is positioned to drive sales and earnings growth in the year ahead.