- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

Here is a look at more of Thursday's top business stories:

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PNM Resources lowers outlook

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Jan. 2 (UPI) — PNM Resources Inc., which distributes gas and electricity to customers in New Mexico, warned it will miss its 2002 earnings estimate, citing power plant outages and mild weather.

PNM lowered its 2002 earnings per share forecast to $1.80, excluding a one-time charge of 14 cents a share. The previous forecast was a range of $1.90 to $2.10.

The company blamed unexpected outages in December at the Four Corners Power Plant, higher than anticipated transition costs at a coal mining station and relatively mild weather in late November and early December that reduced demand for power.

The company also forecast 2003 earnings per share of $1.80 to $2.05, helped by lower fuel costs and growing demand for electricity but hurt by a proposed decrease in retail electric rates.

PNM Resources provides natural gas service to 441,000 gas customers and electric utility service to 378,000 customers in New Mexico.

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Dress Barn posts lower sales

SUFFERN, N.Y., Jan. 2 (UPI) — Women's clothing retailer Dress Barn Inc. said its December same-store sales fell 6 percent.

Total sales for the 5-week fiscal month ended Dec. 28 fell 3 percent to $79.7 million from $82.6 million a year ago.

The company said this year's fiscal month of December included Thanksgiving week, while last year's fiscal month did not.

Combined same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, for fiscal November and December decreased 5 percent from a year earlier.

The Dress Barn operates more than 750 stores nationwide.

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