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People walk past the Nordstrom Rack store, in New York's Union Square, May 21, 2010.Chip East/Reuters

Nordstrom Inc., the largest U.S. luxury department-store chain, posted fourth-quarter profit that trailed analysts' estimates as the company's off-price offerings were more appealing than its full-line stores.

Profit fell 4.9 per cent to $255-million (U.S.) or $1.32 a share for the period ended Jan. 31, from $268-million or $1.37 a year earlier, the company said Thursday in a statement. The average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg was $1.35. Sales at full-line stores open at least a year rose 0.5 per cent last quarter, trailing expectations. Sales at the off-price Nordstrom Rack chain grew 3.2 per cent, topping projections.

"The full-line stores looked weaker, and you certainly need and want their full-line stores to be running at a good pace," Tony Scherrer, the director of research at Smead Capital Management in Seattle, said in an interview. "We continue to be in an environment that is a little more so favouring the average price point of the Rack."

President Blake Nordstrom has been working to capture more bargain hunters with its Rack stores, which drew customers last quarter with its cheaper prices and slimmer margins. The Seattle-based retailer also is looking to expand the department– store chain's customer base with Trunk Club, a men's online clothing service, and the flash-sale site Haute Look.

Profit per share in the year through January, 2016, will be $3.65 to $3.80, the company said. The average of 30 analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg was $4.12.

Nordstrom fell 2.1 per cent to $75.50 at 5:09 p.m. in late trading after the results were released. The shares had slid 2.8 per cent this year through the New York close.

The retailer is boosting its capital expenditures in the next fiscal year to $1.2-billion from $751-million last year as it opens more Rack locations, expands into Canada and Manhattan and opens a third fulfilment centre.

Sales on the Nordstrom.com website grew 19 per cent from last year, while NordstromRack.com sales increased 28 per cent, according to the statement.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

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