March 11, 2009 / 12:32 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-Bon-Ton Stores swings to Q4 loss on charges

* Posts Q4 loss

* Sales drop 9.4 pct to $1.03 bln

* Sees ‘09 loss wider than est

March 11 (Reuters) - Bon-Ton Stores Inc BONT.O swung to a fourth-quarter loss, hurt by impairment charges, and forecast a wider-than-expected loss for 2009, as the ongoing consumer slump keeps crimping business.

The apparel and home furnishings retailer posted a loss of $87.7 million, or $5.22 a share, compared with earnings of $75.2 million, or $4.43 a share, in the year-ago period.

However, excluding asset impairment charges of $7.39 per share, the York, Pennsylvania-based company earned $2.17 per share.

Analysts were expecting the company to earn $2.12 a share.

For 2009, Bon-Ton, which operates the Bon-Ton, Elder-Beerman, Boston Store and Carson Pirie Scott chains, sees a loss of $3.40 to $4.30 a share, while analysts were expecting a loss of $2.41 a share.

Chief Executive Bud Bergren said the company’s cost savings plan for fiscal 2009 is expected to generate $70 million in annual savings.

In January, the retailer had announced plans to cut about 1,150 jobs and eliminate 2008 bonuses for its senior executives in a bid to control costs amid a worsening economy.

Shares of Bon-Ton had closed at $1.13 Tuesday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)

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