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Bon-Ton Loss Grows in 1st Quarter

The company reaffirmed its earnings per share guidance for 2006 to be in a range between $2.15 to $2.35.

NEW YORK — Weighed down by the integration of the former Saks Inc.’s Northern Department Store Group, The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. widened its first-quarter loss.

The net loss for the quarter ended April 29 was $10.8 million, or 66 cents a share, which compares with a net loss of $4.4 million, or 27 cents a share, in the prior year. Sales for the quarter jumped to $561.8 million from $262.5 million in the same period last year. The reported loss was greater than Wall Street’s estimate of 42 cents.

Sales results for the most recent quarter include a $311.5 million contribution from the former NDSG, now referred to as Carson’s by Bon-Ton, for the period starting March 5 and ending April 29. The acquisition of Carson’s occurred during the first quarter.

Bon-Ton’s same-store sales for the quarter declined 2.9 percent. Sales at Carson’s were not included in the reported comp-store sales, but the retailer said they had increased 1.7 percent.

“The first quarter of fiscal 2006 reflects the seasonality of our business as well as the initial stages of the integration process. Our balance sheet remains sound with inventory levels slightly below our plan, excess borrowing capacity more than sufficient for the operation of the business and capital spending well within our targeted expenditures,” said James H. Baireuther, vice chairman and chief administrative officer of Bon-Ton, in a statement.

Baireuther said the integration of Carson’s and Bon-Ton is on schedule and the company has chosen a senior management team, assessed the organizational structure of the company, controlled expenses associated with the integration and combined the business processes and systems of the two organizations.

The company reaffirmed its earnings per share guidance for 2006 to be in a range between $2.15 to $2.35.