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Mothers Work Sees Solid June Increase

NEW YORK — Citing strong response to its current assortments, Mothers Work Inc. delivered a 6.3 percent increase in June same-store sales. <br><br>Comps for the third quarter rose 4.1 percent while total sales for the period ended June 30 rose...

NEW YORK — Citing strong response to its current assortments, Mothers Work Inc. delivered a 6.3 percent increase in June same-store sales.

Comps for the third quarter rose 4.1 percent while total sales for the period ended June 30 rose 17.9 percent to $122.6 million from $104 million a year earlier.

The Philadelphia-based operator of nearly 900 maternity stores said June total sales increased 19.9 percent to $38.8 million from $32.4 million a year ago. MW also said overall inventory levels at the end of the month were just slightly higher than a year earlier and gross margins continue to improve.

Rebecca Matthias, president and chief operating officer, said in a statement, “We continue to realize meaningful gross margin increases over last year, primarily due to our success at reducing product costs through our aggressive sourcing initiatives.”

The majority of the retail industry is expected to report monthly sales results for June on Thursday. Among those filing later this week are Wal-Mart Stores and Federated Department Stores. Both canceled their weekly sales updates because of the upcoming monthly report.

Though not reporting monthly sales, this past Monday Minneapolis-based Christopher & Banks Corp. said that trading in its shares would move to the New York Stock Exchange from the Nasdaq on July 27, when its ticker symbol will become CBK. The specialty retailer has approximately 25.5 million shares of common stock outstanding

To celebrate the listing, Bill Prange, chairman and chief executive, will ring the NYSE opening bell that morning.

“We expect that the listing will provide our company with a more visible presence in the financial community and give our stock increased liquidity as well as reduced volatility,” Prange said in a statement.

In a separate development, Standard & Poor’s lowered by one notch its corporate credit and senior unsecured ratings on May Department Stores Co. to “A” from “A plus.” The downgrade reflects May’s below-average operating performance compared with that of its peers for the last two years, S&P said. S&P also affirmed its “A-1″ commercial paper rating for the company’s $4.7 billion in outstanding debt as of May 4. In all cases, May’s outlook remains stable. According to S&P, the “A” rating indicates a company has “a strong capacity to meet financial commitments, but is somewhat susceptible to adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstances.” The plus or minus is used to make relative differentiations within ratings groups.

Overall, the day reversed course following Friday’s surge. Stocks found themselves once again in negative territory after questions about billions of dollars in revenues booked by drug giant Merck & Co. reignited investors’ accounting jitters. Lackluster results from Alcoa Inc., the world’s top aluminum producer, also depressed prices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 104.60 points, or 1.1 percent, at 9,274.90, after having chalked up its biggest percentage gain in more than nine months on Friday. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 42.68 points, or 3 percent, at 1,405.68, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 crept ahead 1.3 points, or 0.4 percent, to 325.11.