UPDATE 1-Stage Stores Q4 profit beats estimates

Tue Mar 9, 2010 6:58am EST

* Q4 EPS $0.72 vs est $0.69

* Revenue fall 5 pct, miss estimates

* Sees sales, earnings to rise in FY 2010

March 9 (Reuters) - Stage Stores Inc (SSI.N) posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by better inventory management and cost controls, and forecast first-quarter earnings that could meet or beat analysts' expectations.

For the first quarter, the department-store operator expects a loss of 2 cents a share to a profit of 2 cents a share, on sales of $332 million to $339 million.

Analysts were expecting a loss of 2 cents a share on revenue of $336.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company also said it sees sales, earnings and operating margin to rise for fiscal 2010.

For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, the company earned $27.9 million, or 72 cents a share, compared with $25.3 million, or 67 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue fell 5 percent to $431.7 million.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 69 cents a share, on revenue of $432.2 million.

Gross margin rose 180 basis points and selling, general and administrative expenses fell $2.1 million in the quarter.

Shares of the Houston-based company closed at $15.01 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Renju Jose in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri)