Zale Corp. lowers earnings outlook

Zale Corp., North America’s largest jewelry chain, said it would fall well short of Wall Street’s earnings expectations for the current quarter because of sagging sales, the Associated Press reported.

The Irving-based company said that earnings in the quarter ending July 31 would be 14 cents to 17 cents per share, excluding charges for severance paid to departing executives, the AP reported. Including the charges, the company said its net income would be 10 cents to 13 cents per share in the quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had anticipated the company would earn 24 cents per share before onetime items, the APP reported.

Zale said sales at stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales, would rise 1% to 2% in the quarter, also less than had been expected, the AP reported. Same-stores sales are considered the best indicator of a retailer’s performance.

David Sternblitz, director of investor relations, told the AP that Zale’s chains enjoyed a strong Mother’s Day period but saw sales sag in June and early July. Sales have slowed at both the company’s moderate and upscale chains, he said.

Early last week, luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. said earnings would be at the low end of previous expectations and that U.S. same-store sales were flat.

Zale operates more than 2,300 stores and kiosks in North America, including Zales Jewelers, Gordon’s Jewelers and Bailey Banks & Biddle Fine Jewelers.