DES MOINES, Iowa -- Citing a slump in sales, Younkers Inc. reported first-quarter earnings plunged 87.9 percent to $199,000, or 2 cents a share, from $1.1 million, or 15 cents, a year ago.

Sales for the quarter ended April 30 declined 5.4 percent, to $125.6 million from $132.7 million. Same-store sales fell 4.5 percent.

Total shares outstanding totaled 9.2 million in the first quarter, up from 7 million a year ago, reflecting a secondary stock offering last month.

The company noted that in addition to the sales slowdown, earnings were hurt by lower gross margins and a higher tax rate. Gross margins decreased by 2.8 percent, to 34.7 percent, due to higher markdowns of fall and winter merchandise.

Younkers operates 53 department stores in the Midwest.

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