HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears, Roebuck & Co. put on a brave face at its analyst meeting Thursday, but the news was bad.

Digesting difficulties at its credit unit, including the departure of another executive and a $222 million increase in its domestic provision for uncollectible accounts, the firm posted a 27.9 percent drop in third-quarter earnings, finishing the period well below recent projections from the company. Investors reacted by taking a 31.8 percent bite out of the firm’s shares, which ended off $10.80 at $23.15 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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