Shares of Stein Mart Inc. fell 8.3 percent to $6.40 in midmorning trading today as investors digested fourth-quarter results, which took a hit as the retailer tried to move away from coupons.

Net profits fell 70 percent to $5.7 million, or 13 cents a share, from $18.8 million, or 42 cents, a year earlier. Adjusting for asset impairment and store closing charges, earnings totaled 15 cents a share and missed analyst estimates by 4 cents.

Sales for the quarter ended Jan. 28 slipped 2.5 percent to $328.1 million from $336.7 million. For the full year, Stein Mart’s net profits fell 59 percent to $19.8 million on a 1.8 percent decline in sales to $1.16 billion.

“Sales results drove our fourth-quarter and full-year bottom line lower than last year,” said Jay Stein, chairman and interim chief executive officer. “While we were disappointed, we are determined to return to the everyday low prices that built this company. We were conservative in planning our January receipts. This leaves us in a slightly better inventory position as we enter 2012 but unfortunately impacted our end of year sales.”

Stein added that the company was working to “find the right promotional balance with our efforts to reduce reliance on coupons to drive store traffic.”

Stein took the reins as interim ceo in September, when David Stovall Jr. retired.

The company said its gross profit rate would fall this year as it tweaks its pricing strategy.

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