Credit card revenues continue to drive profits at Sears even as retail sales and gross margin continue to soften. Sears, Roebuck and Co. reported Thursday third-quarter total operating income of $429 million, a decline of more than 10% from 3Q/98. However operating income from Sears’ credit card business rose 5.7% to $316 million. International operating income rose about 56%, but all other categories declined significantly. Retail operating income declined more than 51%, services operating income declined nearly 19% and operating income from corporate activities declined more than 30%, compared to 3Q/98. Even though credit operating income increased, Sears average managed credit card receivables have declined significantly over the past twelve months, from $27.6 billion to $26.0 billion. But credit quality continues to improve as chargeoffs declined to 6.39% for 3Q/99 compared to 7.20% for 3Q/98. However delinquency (30+day) inched up from 7.29% for 3Q/98 to 7.57% for 3Q/99. Sears net interest margin also declined from 14.17% for 3Q/98 to 13.52% for 3Q/99. For complete details on Sears’ 3Q/99 visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).