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Coldwater Creek reports loss

Coldwater Creek Inc., the Sandpoint-based women’s fashion and accessory retailer, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $18.6 million, or 20 cents a share, compared with a loss of $17 million and 19 cents a share from the fourth quarter of 2007.

The company also released fiscal year 2008 results, including a loss of $26 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with a loss of $2.5 million and 3 cents a share in fiscal year 2007.

Fourth-quarter revenue dropped to $283.2 million from $345.5 million in the like period of 2007.

After a tough fourth quarter, company officials said they’ve cut costs, laid off workers and lowered the number of stores Coldwater Creek will open in the coming year.


Home sales fall throughout state

The slump in home sales and prices hit nearly every county in Washington state in the fourth quarter, according to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University.

Statewide, sales of existing homes dropped 29.1 percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year earlier. The annualized sales rate of 71,730 homes was the lowest since the center began tracking the statistics in 1994.

The median sale price in the state fell 9.3 percent, to $266,700.

Home sales in Washington peaked in the third quarter of 2005, when 163,600 units sold, said Glenn Crellin, director of the center.


Ford offers to exchange debt

Ford Motor Co. took another step Wednesday to stay cost-competitive with other automakers receiving government help when it offered to exchange up to 40 percent of its debt for cash and stock.

The company and its financial arm are putting up $2.2 billion in cash to entice holders of $10.4 billion in convertible notes, other unsecured debt and secured term debt to take the offer.

The company said reducing the debt will cut the amount it pays in interest and put it in better position to compete with General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

“This is all part of a restructuring plan to make the company healthier in the end,” said Ford spokesman Mark Truby.

GM and Chrysler also are trying to swap debt for equity as a requirement of the $17.4 billion in government loans they have received.

Ford, which also is trying to restructure amid a severe automotive sales downturn, said Wednesday that it still does not intend to seek federal aid.

Issaquah, Wash.

Costco sees drop in profit margins

Costco Wholesale Corp. said Wednesday that weaker sales, slimmer profit margins and the overall impact of the weak economy pushed its profit down 27 percent in the fiscal second quarter.

Costco, which is one of the nation’s largest wholesale club chains, has benefited during the downturn as shoppers flocked to its clubs for deals on food and gasoline.

But sales of nonfood items at Costco have dropped as consumers limit their discretionary spending.

And the Issaquah, Wash.-based company’s deeper discounts during the quarter, particularly before the holidays, were intended to draw cost-conscious customers but also hurt its margins.

Costco said the stronger dollar and a decline in its profit on gasoline sales also took a toll.

From staff and wire reports