By  on April 2, 2010

Belk Inc. generated a profit, versus a year-ago loss, and slowed the pace of its sales erosion in the fourth quarter.

During the three months ended Jan. 30, the Charlotte, N.C.-based department store operator generated net income of $56.7 million versus a loss of $202.8 million in the 2008 quarter, when the company recorded about $324 million in pretax impairment charges. Sales declined 1.3 percent to $1.1 billion from $1.11 billion in the prior-year quarter, and gross margin improved to 34.3 percent of sales from 31.1 percent.

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