Sears reported this morning that its domestic Credit and Financial Products division posted a 29% increase in operating income while it experienced a slight decline in revenues to $1.3 billion. Since the prior quarter, Sears’ average credit card outstandings have declined from $29.4 billion to $29.2 billion, due to the continuing contraction in its private label portfolio. The “Sears Gold MasterCard” increased from $12.6 billion in the second quarter to $13.0 billion for 3Q/03. Since 3Q/02, Sears bank credit card portfolio has grown more than 35%. The “Sears Card” declined from $16.8 billion in 2Q/03 outstandings to $16.2 billion in third quarter outstandings. In the third quarter, net charge-offs rose to 7.55%, compared to 5.55% one year ago. Delinquency also edged up to 7.62%, compared to 7.41% for the second quarter, and 7.24% one year ago. Sears also reported that its 3Q/03 net interest margin increased to 14.10%, compared to 13.25% for the second quarter, but below 3Q/02’s 14.75% rate. Sears is in the process of selling its domestic Credit and Financial Products division to Citigroup. For complete details on Sears third quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).