By  on November 14, 2013

Dillard’s Inc. beat analysts’ expectations for the third quarter as it squeezed out a 4.9 percent profit rise on a 1 percent increase in same-store sales.

The Little Rock, Ark.-based department store chain reported net income for the three months ended Nov. 2 of $50.9 million, or $1.13 a share, versus year-ago profits of $48.5 million, or $1.01. Analysts had expected EPS of $1.05 in the more recent quarter. Year-ago earnings reflect 5 cents gained from the sale of two store locations and an adjustment for tax valuation.

Overall revenues also topped estimates, rising 1.4 percent to $1.51 billion, from $1.49 billion, just above the $1.5 billion anticipated by analysts. Excluding non-retail operations, net sales were up 1.3 percent to $1.47 billion, reflecting the company’s 1 percent advance in same-store sales for the quarter.

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Gross margin dropped to 36.2 percent of sales from 36.6 percent in the 2012 quarter.

William Dillard 2nd, chief executive officer, said, “Another positive comparable-store sales increase and expense control highlight our third quarter at Dillard’s, as did our aggressive execution of $187 million of share buyback. In spite of a somewhat disappointing 30 basis point decline in merchandise gross margin, we were pleased to deliver increased net income.”

Dillard’s said sales were strongest in women’s accessories and lingerie, followed by shoes and women’s apparel. Home and furniture sales were weak.

The company's stores will remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, “continuing its longstanding tradition of honoring our customers’ and associates’ time with family.” Stores will open at 8 a.m. on Black Friday.

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