Nordstrom said today that its profit fell 8. 6 percent in the fourth quarter amid a holiday shopping season it called "challenging," but...

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Nordstrom said today that its profit fell 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter amid a holiday shopping season it called “challenging,” but it beat Wall Street estimates.

For the quarter ended Feb. 2, the Seattle-based clothing retailer earned $212 million, or 92 cents a share, down from $232 million, or 89 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting 88 cents a share, on average.

Quarterly sales slipped 4.4 percent to $2.51 billion, in line with Wall Street estimates and down from $2.63 billion last year.

Excluding one extra week in last year’s fourth quarter, Nordstrom said sales were essentially flat.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key measure of a retailer’s health, declined 0.7 percent.

“The fourth quarter presented a challenging consumer and retail environment, but the company continued to make good progress aligning inventory and expenses to sales trends,” Nordstrom said in a statement.

For the full fiscal year, Nordstrom’s profit rose 5.5 percent to $715 million, or $2.88 a share, compared with $678 million, or $2.55 a share, in the previous year.

Last year’s full-year results include a gain of $20.9 million, or 9 cents a share, for the sale of its Faconnable brand, which closed during the third quarter.

Total sales for the year rose 3.2 percent to $8.83 billion, up from $8.56 billion the year before, which included a 53rd week of sales totaling $117.7 million.

Excluding that extra week, total sales rose 4.6 percent in the latest fiscal year, and same-store sales increased 3.9 percent.

Nordstrom said it expects first-quarter earnings of 49 cents to 54 cents a share, below analysts’ expectation of 59 cents. The company said it expects same-store sales this year to range from flat to a 2 percent decrease, and full-year earnings to range from $2.75 to $2.90 a share, compared with the $2.98 Wall Street was expecting.

Nordstrom released the results after the market closed. The company’s shares rose 98 cents, or 2.7 percent, to close at $36.98 today. They rose 27 cents in after-hours trading.