By  on August 8, 2012

Dillard’s Inc. turned better sales, stronger gross margins and expense cuts into a 76 percent bottom-line gain in the second quarter.

The department store’s profits shot up to $31 million, or 63 cents a diluted share, from $17.6 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier.

Revenues for the three months ended July 28 increased 3.3 percent to $1.53 billion from $1.48 billion.

Dillard’s gross margin from its retail operations came in at 34.3 percent of sales, up from 33.6 percent a year earlier. Advertising, selling, general and administrative expenses fell to 26.8 percent of sales from 27.5 percent as increases in payroll, services purchased and insurance were offset by cost savings in advertising and utilities.

“Our…sales increase combined with gross margin improvement and control of our expenses enabled us to report a notable improvement in operating results today,” said William Dillard 2nd, chief executive officer. “Additionally, with strong cash flow during the quarter, we repurchased $134.6 million of class A common stock under our share repurchase program.”

Dillard’s, one of the few remaining regional department stores, has been positioning itself as more of a luxe player with a greater emphasis on service.

Accessories, lingerie, shoes and cosmetics were the firm’s best categories during the quarter, while home, juniors and children’s apparel were the weakest.

For the first half, net income advanced 33.8 percent to $126 million, or $2.53 a diluted share, from $94.2 million, or $1.66, a year earlier. Revenues increased 4.5 percent to $3.11 billion from $2.98 billion.

The Little Rock, Ark.-based chain has 285 stores across 29 states.

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