NEW YORK — Federated Department Stores Inc.’s second-quarter profits fell by more than half and sales retreated as well, but the firm’s ability to beat consensus estimates and recent guidance marked it as a star in the beleaguered department store sector.

For the three months ended Aug. 2, the Cincinnati-based operator of Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, among other nameplates, said net income dropped 57.4 percent to $120 million, or 64 cents a diluted share. That compares with last year’s earnings from continuing operations of $282 million, or $1.39. This year’s earnings included costs of $10 million, or 3 cents, for store consolidation and closings. Excluding income from its 2002 sale of Fingerhut assets, last year’s EPS was 66 cents.

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