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Macy’s profit up, despite bad storms

NEW YORK — Macy’s Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit rose 11 percent, but the department store chain suffered a sales slowdown because a string of winter storms chilled business in January.

The results, released Tuesday, follow a solid but fiercely competitive holiday shopping season for the Cincinnati-based company, which also operates Bloomingdale’s stores. The chain has been a standout among its peers throughout the economic recovery as it has benefited from its moves to tailor merchandise to local markets.

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But as at other retailers, severe winter storms have caused Macy’s to close stores and kept shoppers at home. At one time during January, 244 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores, or about 30 percent of the company’s total, were shut down because of the weather. Business remained sluggish until Valentine’s Day.

The company stuck with its annual profit and sales forecast on hopes that business will bounce back in the spring. Macy’s stock rose $3.19, or 6 percent, to $56.25.

‘‘Once warm spring weather arrives and our full assortment of fresh spring merchandise is in place, we believe customers will return to a more normalized pattern of shopping,’’ chief executive Terry Lundgren said in a statement.

Macy’s is also dealing with cautious shoppers and trying to respond to shoppers’ shift toward buying online. For example, the retailer is rolling out a service that allows shoppers to buy online and pick up the items at a store.

Last month, the company said it was cutting jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain profitability. But its workforce will remain level at about 175,000 as the company adds positions in areas related to online shopping.

The department store chain said it earned $811 million, or $2.16 per share, in the three months that ended Feb. 1. That compares with $730 million, or $1.83 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent, below the 2.5 percent increase Wall Street analysts expected.

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