NEW YORK — Women’s specialty chain Cache Inc. swung to a third-quarter loss from a profit a year ago, citing store closures and reduced traffic as a result of the Florida hurricanes. Earnings in the first nine months of the year, however, jumped 22.3 percent.

In the three months ended Sept. 25, the company reported a net loss of $521,000, or 3 cents a diluted share, a penny ahead of analysts’ expectations. That compared with net earnings of $614,000, or 4 cents, in the year-earlier period. Total sales in the quarter were $49.4 million, up 4.4 percent from the prior year’s $47.3 million, while same-store sales dropped 2 percent.

Cache chairman Brian Woolf said in a Tuesday statement that, in addition to the negative impacts of the hurricanes, the company took increased markdowns during the quarter to reduce inventory and clear summer sportswear.

In the 39-week period, Cache said net income rose to $7.1 million, or 44 cents, from $5.8 million, or 40 cents, a year ago, while total sales jumped 11.3 percent to $168.7 million from $151.6 million. Same-store sales rose 4 percent.

Both the third-quarter and nine-month results reflected a 3 for 2 reverse stock split completed on June 18, New York-based Cache said.

Looking at October’s results, Woolf said sales are “on plan,” as inventory levels are improved from last year and “are well positioned for the fall selling season.” He added that a positive response to the company’s sportswear assortments and the stability of its dress business has the company “poised to report increases in sales and earnings in the fourth quarter.”

— Meredith Derby

This story first appeared in the October 20, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.