) to hold from buy.
Analyst Margaret Whitfield says the 25 cents to 30 cents fourth quarter earnings per share guidance is down from 41 cents to 43 cents. She says gross margins may decline about 300 basis points compared to her prior 160 basis point increase estimate. She notes while the company indicated in a release that sweaters ran against this year's fashion trends, other retailers have performed relatively well in sweaters, including Talbots and Chico's.
Whitfield lowered her $29 target to $20, and lowered her $1.05 2002 earnings per share estimate 90 cents and cut the $1.26 2003 estimate to $1.11.