SINKING SHARES: Shares of Stein Mart Inc. tumbled 27.5 percent Wednesday after the company said late Tuesday that profits for the fourth quarter and year would fall below analysts estimates.
Stein Mart plunged 3 1/8 to 11 3/8 in over-the-counter trading Wednesday.
Reacting to Stein Mart’s poor forecast, Raymond James Financial Inc. and Smith Barney Inc. lowered their recommendation on the company’s stock to “neutral” from “buy.” NatWest Securities Corp. also lowered its rating to “hold” from “trading buy.”
The company reported that earnings for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, are expected to come in “somewhat ahead” of the 45 cents earned a year ago, but lower than analysts estimates of 55 cents. Profits for the full year are expected to be below analysts range of 82 to 87 cents a share. The off-pricer earned 70 cents in 1993.
Stein Mart operates 80 off-price stores in 18 states.

SEARS SOARS: Shares of Sears, Roebuck rose 2 3/8, or 9.5 percent, to 48 1/8 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, following Tuesday’s report of strong earnings results in 1994. The Merchandising Group, as noted, posted its best performance in 10 years, rising 17.5 percent in the fourth quarter and 18.4 percent last year.

WESTPORT WINNER: Eva Jiricna Architects Ltd. of London received the annual Best in Retail Design Award from Interiors Magazine for creating the Joan & David store in Westport, Conn., last year. The store is dominated by Jiricna’s signature staircase of stainless steel and black metal bands with a glass balustrade. Housed in a 19th century building on 26 Main St. in Westport, the store was built by Richter + Ratner Contracting Corp., which specializes in retail construction.

TECHKNITS TURNAROUND: TechKnits, a Brooklyn-based knitwear supplier to mass merchants, reported net earnings for the third quarter, ended Nov. 30, of $113,638, or 6 cents per share, compared with a loss of $87,087 in the year-ago period.
Sales in the quarter totaled $9,859,817, a 33 percent increase over $7,412,539 last year.
Simon Taub, TechKnits chairman and chief executive officer, said the sales increase reflected a strong spring market for traditional women’s and children’s sweaters as well as its year-old men’s division.

A CHARITABLE EFFORT: The May Department Stores Co. announced that it has donated $200,000 to the National AIDS Fund as part of a $1 million, five-year funding program to combat AIDS. The St. Louis-based retailer also said that it contributed $100,000 to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., to help the museum redesign its newsletter.

EXTENDED CREDIT: Pamida Holdings Corp., said Tuesday that its operating subsidiary, Pamida Inc., boosted its credit facility to $80 million from $60 million and extended the term of the loan by one year.
The new credit facility, which now expires March 30, 1997, continues with Congress Financial Corp. and BA Business Credit Inc. as lenders.
Pamida, based in Omaha, Neb., is a general merchandise retailer operating 184 stores in 15 states. In the last 12 months, Pamida’s sales exceeded $710 million.

TAKING A TUMBLE: Fourth-quarter earnings at One Price Clothing Stores Inc. fell 75.2 percent to $1.1 million, or 11 cents a share, from $4.5 million, or 43 cents, a year ago.
Sales rose 8.4 percent to $78.9 million from $72.7 million, but same-store sales declined 13 percent in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
One Price, based in Duncan, S.C., blamed the disappointing results on the combination of a slowdown in spending on women’s apparel and unseasonably warm fall temperatures, which resulted in additional markdowns on slow-moving inventory. The company also noted that inventories are near planned levels, and 5 percent below last year’s.