updated 11/10/2004 10:47:03 AM ET 2004-11-10T15:47:03

The retailing giant Federated Department Stores Inc. on Wednesday reported a 10 percent increase in third-quarter earnings, citing improvements after Florida hurricanes hurt September sales.

The operator of Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Lazarus-Macy's department stores earned $74 million, or 42 cents a share, in the quarter ended Oct. 30, compared with $67 million, or 36 cents a share, in the third quarter of 2003.

The results included store closings, centralization and consolidation costs of $36 million in the third quarter, compared with $29 million for the year-ago period.

Sales were relatively unchanged, increasing less than 0.2 percent from a year ago to $3.49 billion.

Sales at stores opened at least a year, known as same-store sales, increased 0.4 percent. Same-store sales are considered the best indicator of a retailer's health.

For the first nine months of the year, Federated earned $249 million, or $1.38 per share, up from earnings of $233 million, or $1.25 per share in the year-ago period. Sales increased 3.4 percent to $10.6 billion from $10.21 billion a year ago.

The company also spent $336 million to repurchase 7.4 million shares of stock in the third quarter.

Federated maintained that it will earn between $2.45 to $2.55 per share in the fourth quarter. The company anticipates same-store sales for the fourth quarter to increase 1.5 percent to 3 percent. Federated expects November same-store sales will be up no more than 2 percent, while December will benefit from having two extra pre-Christmas shopping days this year, resulting in a projected same-store sales increase of 1 to 3 percent.

Federated had 2003 fiscal year sales of more than $15.2 billion. It has more than 450 stores in 34 states and operates macys.com and Bloomingdale's By Mail.

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