NEW YORK — Lower sales and higher costs depressed St. John Knit International Inc.’s profits in the second quarter.

For the three months ended May 4, the Irvine, Calif.-based apparel and accessories manufacturer and marketer reported a 73.3 percent plunge in net income to $1.9 million, or 29 cents a diluted share. By comparison, last year the company had earnings of $7.3 million, or 89 cents, according to a quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday.

In the year-ago period, the firm paid $1.4 million in preferred stock dividends, reducing income allocated to common stockholders to $5.9 million. No dividends were paid during the most recent quarter.

Sales for the period retreated 5.1 percent to $87.6 million from $92.3 million a year ago, but much of the weaker earnings performance was due to a 1,030 basis point escalation in selling, general and administrative costs to 48.5 percent of sales from 38.2 percent last year. Overall wholesale revenues rose 2.9 percent to $73.7 million while retail sales dropped 4.6 percent to $36.6 million.

Wholesale operating income dropped 9.6 percent to $12.4 million while retail’s took a 54.5 percent hit, landing at $2.2 million.

St. John said the sales decrease was caused by lower domestic wholesale results, an approximately $2.5 million decline in company-owned boutique retail sales and a drop in sales at the firm’s home stores. Some of the decline in revenues was a result of the bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation of Jacobson Stores last year.

Consolidated inventories over the last six months decreased 6.7 percent to $51.2 million from $54.7 million.

Overall, for the first half of the year, St. John said net income fell by almost half, or 47.2 percent, to $7 million, or $1.03, from $13.2 million, or $1.59, in the prior-year period. However, sales for the period grew 3.1 percent to $185.9 million from $180.2 million a year ago.

Although now privately held, some of St. John’s stock remains in public hands and it continues to report its financial results.

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