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Comps Drive Stein Mart Bottom Line

Value chain’s first-quarter profits topped projections.

Solid comparable-store sales helped drive Stein Mart Inc.’s profits up in the first quarter.

Earnings gained 35.6 percent to $14.7 million, or 33 cents a diluted share, from $10.8 million, or 25 cents, a year earlier. Profits per share were 4 cents ahead of the 29 cents Wall Street projected, helping to push the company’s stock up 2.8 percent to $12.05 by 11:00 a.m. on Wall Street.

Sales for the quarter ended May 4 advanced 3.8 percent to $321.4 million from $309.7 million.

 

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“We ended the quarter strongly with an 8 percent comp sales increase in April and a positive comp for the quarter, despite a slow start caused by colder than normal weather and the Easter calendar shift,” said Jay Stein, chief executive officer. “Our increased sales and a higher gross profit rate leveraged against relatively flat expenses drove our substantially higher earnings.”

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based chain has 262 stores, which it describes as offering the goods and presentation of department stores at prices that are competitive with off-pricers.