NEW YORK — Same-store sales declines of 18 percent made a fourth-quarter loss inescapable for teen retailer Wet Seal Inc.

Weak sales and an aftertax charge of $5.7 million, or 19 cents a share, for inventory write-downs drove the Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based operator of 610 stores under the Wet Seal, Arden B. and Zutopia nameplates to a loss of $5.6 million, or 19 cents a share. The retailer reported earnings of $15.3 million, or 49 cents, in the prior-year quarter. Results were in line with company guidance as well as Wall Street’s consensus estimates. Sales fell to $161.2 million, a drop of 11.2 percent from $181.5 million a year earlier. The comp decline was against a comp increase of 7 percent in 2001.

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