NEW YORK -- As R.H. Macy & Co. tries to sell its $3.6 billion term sheet, the pitch may sound sweeter following the bankrupt chain's latest report.

Macy's said adjusted comparable-store sales grew by 14.4 percent in the five weeks ended April 2 compared with last year.

At the same time, Federated Department Stores, which is seeking to merge with a Macy's, posted comparable-store sales gains of only 3.1 percent in March.

"It's interesting to note that the company that is trying to muscle in on Macy's put up 3 percent comparable-store sales gains while Macy's was closer to its peer group with a healthier 14 percent," said one analyst.

Macy's same-store sales for the five weeks ended April 2 were $515.2 million, compared with $450.5 million for the comparable period last year.

Total revenues for March rose 6.7 percent, to $538.8 million from $504.9 million.

"The strong improvement reflects both the success of [our] new merchandising programs and the fact that Easter came a week earlier than last year and therefore was included in the March results," Macy's said in a statement.

"A better barometer of Macy's sales growth," the retail giant said, "will be [our] results for March and April combined."

Macy's said if sales in April finish in line with its internal sales plan, the adjusted comparable-store sales gain for March-April would be about 6 percent. Edward F. Johnson, an analyst with Johnson Redbook Service, said the strong store-for-store sales gain in March was one indication that Macy's is turning it around. However, referring to Macy's unknown margins, he added, "But I don't know if they are 'giving things away there."'

Johnson also noted that Federated is working hard on margins and costs right now and not on increasing sales, so while comparable-store gains lagged behind Macy's, Federated might be more profitable.

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