By  on August 19, 2005

NEW YORK — Retailers reporting second-quarter results Thursday delivered, for the most part, mixed results, with Stein Mart Inc. posting profits that doubled.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer reported net income of $11.6 million, or 26 cents a share, for the second quarter ended July 30, which is up from $5.7 million, or 13 cents a share, for the same period last year. Net sales for the quarter climbed 5.1 percent to $337.1 million from $320.6 million last year. Comp-store sales in the quarter grew 3 percent over the prior year.

In its quarterly report, the retailer cited decreased markdowns as one element driving its positive results. "We experienced strong, regular-price selling of our fashion assortment through the spring-summer season and continue to enjoy early success with our transition and fall assortment due to the continual flow of fresh merchandise into the stores," said Michael D. Fisher, president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

For York, Pa.-based Bon-Ton Stores Inc., results were not as good. The company reported a net loss of $1.4 million, or 9 cents a share, for the second quarter ended July 30. In the prior year, Bon-Ton had a net loss of $388,000, or 2 cents per share. The second-quarter loss in 2005 includes an after-tax charge of 4 cents a share from the sale of the company's proprietary credit card operations. Total sales for the most recent quarter declined 3.5 percent to $274.3 million from $284.2 million a year ago. Comp-store sales decreased 3 percent.

James H. Baireuther, vice chairman and chief administrative officer of Bon-Ton, attributed the declining numbers to the sale of "non-go-forward" merchandise during the spring months. "These goods generated nonrecurring clearance sales of approximately $27 million in the first half of 2004. The replacement of sales from new merchandise did not occur to the degree we had anticipated," he said. Baireuther also said cooler weather in May had a negative impact on apparel sales.

Specialty retailer Aéropostale Inc. also had a disappointing quarter. The company reported a decline in net income to $7.5 million, or 13 cents a share, for the quarter ended July 30, down from $10.9 million, or 19 cents a share, in the same period last year. Net sales for the quarter increased 19.5 percent to $232.8 million from $194.9 million. Comp-store sales decreased 2.2 percent in the quarter versus a year-ago gain of 20 percent."We are clearly disappointed with our performance for the second quarter," said Julian Geiger, chairman and ceo, in a statement. "While we were able to manage our expenses carefully, our sale and gross margins in certain key classifications were significantly below our plan. As a result of this shortfall, our inventories at the end of the second quarter were higher than we initially anticipated."

For regional discounter ShopKo Stores Inc., based in Green Bay, Wis., the second quarter showed significant profit gains. The company reported a 39 percent increase in earnings to $11.5 million, or 38 cents per share, from $8.3 million, or 28 cents, for the same period last year. Net sales for the quarter decreased 5 percent to $737 million from $775.6 million. Same-store sales also declined, dropping 5.6 percent from the same period last year.

A company statement attributed results for the quarter to a higher gross margin resulting from profitable sales and promotional activity; a decrease in capital expenditures due to reduced store remodeling activity; a reduction in debt levels; and a gain on the sale of three stores that partially offset merger-related costs.

Meanwhile, second-quarter net income for Stage Stores Inc. increased 20.4 percent, to $6.5 million, or 33 cents a share, from $5.4 million, or 27 cents a share, for the same period last year on revenue that grew 10.5 percent to $309.4 million from $279.9 million. The improved results were attributed to the company's comparable-store sales growth of 7 percent for the quarter along with sales from new stores.

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