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Market Malaise Pares Shares

NEW YORK — The <B>WWD Composite Stock Index</B> continued its slide for a sixth straight week, retreating another 1.4 percent to close at 1,048.19 from 1,062.67 a week ago.<BR><BR>The <B>S&P 500</B> likewise fell for the sixth consecutive...

NEW YORK — The WWD Composite Stock Index continued its slide for a sixth straight week, retreating another 1.4 percent to close at 1,048.19 from 1,062.67 a week ago.

The S&P 500 likewise fell for the sixth consecutive week, also declining 1.4 percent to 1,086.2 from 1,101.39. General market apathy and concern that overall earnings growth may be slowing led the Dow Jones Industrial Average to close below 10,000 for the first time since May 24.

As if on cue, Sears, Roebuck & Co. kicked off the retail apparel earnings season last week with an 82.8 percent plunge in income that missed the Wall Street consensus estimate by a whopping 23 cents. The nation’s largest department store chain, which is under pressure from investors to prove it can grow without its lucrative credit card business, saw its shares hit a new 52-week low on Thursday and then finished the week down 2.8 percent to $33.65 from $34.61.

Investors also punished Quiksilver Inc.’s stock, trading it down 5.8 percent to $20.85 from $22.13 a week ago. The sell-off came despite a prediction by president Bernard Mariette that Quiksilver will top $3 billion in sales in the next five to seven years. The company, which is expanding aggressively overseas, and especially in Asia, benefited greatly from a weaker dollar, making those global revenues vulnerable should the dollar start to recover.

Alberto-Culver Co. said strong results from its Sally and Beauty Systems Group businesses drove double-digit bottom- and top-line gains in the third quarter, but its stock was still caught in the outgoing tide. Shares lost 4.2 percent to $47.87 from $49.99 last week.

In a bright spot, investors were certainly temperate, but they did appreciate VF Corp.’s 20.2 percent rise in second-quarter earnings, pushing up the company’s shares 0.7 percent to $48.21 from $47.89 a week ago. Trading was restrained, given that VF projected an 8 percent increase in earnings per share and a 12 to 15 percent rise in sales for the year, and logs a bargain-basement price-to-earnings ratio of 12.61.

— Dan Burrows





WWDComposite Stock Index vs. S&P 500


Source: data Networks, Standard & Poor’s