NEW YORK — Federated Department Stores Inc.’s first-quarter profits fell by nearly half, but the firm managed its inventories downward nearly as rapidly as its sales fell.

The Cincinnati-based parent of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s reported net income for the three months ended May 3 fell 48.3 percent to $46 million, or 24 cents a diluted share, from $89 million, or 43 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Results included $8 million in costs to consolidate Rich’s and Macy’s in the Southeast, well below the $35 million initially expected. Accordingly, earnings per share exceeded initial expectations of 14 to 19 cents.

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