PetSmart said early today that its third-quarter sales and earnings will be below earlier expectations. The specialty retailer now expects same-store sales growth to be below its original low-to-mid single digit forecast for the third quarter. Earnings per share are expected to total 17 to 20 cents per share, south of analysts' expected earnings range of 21 cents to 23 cents per share.

For fiscal 2007, the company expects to post per-share results of $2.02 to $2.07, down from an earlier forecast of $2.08 to $2.10 per share.

In an accompanying statement, PetSmart chairman/CEO Philip L. Francis noted that We're clearly operating in an uncertain economic environment, and we believe recent consumer weakness may be impacting our business. In addition, warmer-than-usual weather has dampened sales in key cold-weather categories.

In pre-market action, PETM has plunged more than 9% lower to slip south of the 30 threshold. If the stock opens at these levels, it will gap south of its 20-month moving average, which has not been breached since last September and acted as solid support in August.