Hurricanes cause Zale to lower its first quarter outlook.

Zale Corp., North America’s largest specialty retailer of fine jewelry, reported today that it now expects comparable store sales to be flat to down 1% for its first quarter ending Oct. 31.

In revising its outlook, the company cited severe weather conditions in Florida, the Southeastern United States, and Puerto Rico. Approximately 325 locations have been impacted by the recent hurricanes, resulting in estimated lost revenues of $6.5 million.

The company says it believes that the effects of these severe weather conditions will not impact its previously issued guidance for the second, third, and fourth quarters of its current fiscal year.

The company in August said that it expected revenue growth of 5% to 7% for the fiscal year ending July 2005, which included a comparable store sales increase of 2% to 3%.

Zale Corp. operates approximately 2,255 retail locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, as well as through the Internet at www.zales.com. Zale Corp.’s brands include Zales Jewelers, Zales Fine Jewelry Outlet, Gordon’s Jewelers, Bailey Banks & Biddle Fine Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Mappins Jewellers and Piercing Pagoda.