What are the odds that a retailer based in the southern U.S. would blame hurricanes for an unexpected loss last quarter? For those of you who love the old weather excuse, Saks (NYSE:SKS) has got you covered.

The Alabama-based retailer -- yeah, not much New York about this Fifth Avenue -- posted a surprise loss today, blaming the late summer's Gulf Coast hurricanes, among other things.

Last year's $0.09 per share was replaced by a big, negative $0.18 per share. Even if we strain out the $0.13-per-share charges for store closings, and even if we spot it the $0.03 per share blamed on the big blows, we're left with -$0.02 per share. That sum is sixpence worse than what analysts thought they'd see.

The problems started at the top line, where there was a slim 1% gain in sales. The Saks Fifth Avenue segment managed a 4.3% comps increase, but the department store group, comprising stores such as Younkers, Herberger's, and Carson Pirie Scott, put in a 2.6% decline. That pegged overall comps growth at 0.3%.

Not an impressive showing when other retailers -- from Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) to Target (NYSE:TGT) -- are generally doing pretty well. Comparing to closer peers such as FederatedDepartment Stores (NYSE:FD) -- which recently reported a surprising success -- makes Saks' whiff even worse.

Here's the problem. In a time when there appears to be a fairly healthy retail rebound -- which some of us suspected was on the way despite the Street's October glooms -- Saks is forecasting more flat comps but slightly better times for the upscale Fifth Avenue segment. This has been a good time for luxury retailers, with the Coach (NYSE:COH) types doing much better than lower-end stores. Unfortunately, if you're buying SKS, you get the whole shebang. If you want to profit from the high-end trend, look at other, more specialized retailers.

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Seth Jayson is a wicked cheapskate and most retailers' worst nightmare -- unless they sell funky bikes. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.