LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — With a crucial assist from lower taxes, Dillard Department Stores managed a 19.8 percent gain in third-quarter earnings and a slim 2.4 percent increase in the nine months ended Oct. 29.
The 232-unit chain reported net earnings for the quarter of $50.8 million, or 45 cents a share, against $42.4 million, or 38 cents. Sales were up 8.6 percent to $1.3 billion from $1.2 billion. Same-store sales rose 5 percent.
Before taxes, however, earnings in the quarter were up only 1.2 percent to $81.9 million from $80.9 million. In the nine months, pretax profits were down 2.3 percent to $214.3 million from $219.3 million.
Cost of goods sold as a percentage of sales increased in both periods, to 65 percent from 64 percent in the quarter and to 65.6 percent from 64.3 percent in the nine months, indicating slipping gross margins.