COLE SHARES PLUMMET: Shares of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. plunged 7.9 percent, closing at $27.01 Thursday after the firm lowered its fourth-quarter sales and earnings guidance to below analyst consensus estimates due to a “generally challenging December, particularly in its consumer direct business.” Revenues for the fourth quarter are expected to be in the range of $133 million to $135 million with earnings per share coming in between 43 cents and 45 cents. For the full-year period, EPS is expected to be between $1.72 and $1.74 a share, which is “up approximately 9 percent versus the fiscal 2003 level of $1.59,” the firm said in a statement. “The company continues to believe that it will attain its prior guidance for sales and earnings growth in fiscal 2005 of 10 percent to 15 percent,” the company added.

CONSUMER CALLING: Wendy D. Farina has joined global management consultant Kurt Salmon Associates as a principal in its North American growth and profitability practice, where she will lead the consumer insights and marketing services. Farina’s post reflects a reorganization by the consultant, aimed, she said, at “bringing it more in line with marketplace demand — a deeper understanding of consumer insights, especially targeting a core customer.”“The days of trying to be all things to all people are over,” added Farina, 45, who joined Kurt Salmon from The Cambridge Group, a Chicago-based consumer strategy boutique. She began her career in retail at Lerner New York and the Lane Bryant division of The Limited, where she held posts in buying, merchandising and marketing.

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