LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Profits at Dillard Department Stores inched ahead 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, while sales rose 6.2 percent.

In the quarter, Dillard earned $111.3 million, or 99 cents a share, up slightly from $110.4 million, or 98 cents, a year earlier. The company said it recorded a charge of $6.6 million, or 6 cents, related to a 1 percent increase in its corporate tax rate.

Sales rose to $1.63 billion from $1.54 billion a year earlier, and same-store sales were up 3 percent.

Peter Schaefer, an analyst at Johnson Redbook, pointed out that even after excluding the 6 cents charge earnings were below his expectations of $1.12.

Schaefer blamed the lower-than-expected results on Dillard's inability to lower selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales.

For the year, profits rose 2 percent to $241.1 million, or $2.14 a share, from $236.4 million, or $2.11, in the prior year. Sales improved 8.8 percent to $5.1 billion from $4.7 billion, and same-store sales increased 3 percent.

Dillard operates 227 department stores in 20 states with an aggregate of 35.2 million square feet. Ten stores were opened last year and one was closed.

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