NEW YORK — Stage Stores Inc. posted double-digit earnings declines for the second quarter and first half.

For the three months ended Aug. 2, net income fell 11.9 percent to $9.1 million, or 45 cents a diluted share, from $10.4 million, or 47 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Sales were essentially flat, creeping down to $207.5 million from $207.7 million, and comparable-store sales were off 3.5 percent.

Jim Scarborough, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the company is showing signs of improvement, “including progress in reducing the rate of decline in our comparable-store sales. Additionally, we maintained lower inventory levels throughout the 13-week period.”

Margins were reduced by the highly promotional environment, and occupancy costs rose because of the addition of 19 stores compared with a year ago. Results were aided by “reduced shrink expense, as well as higher income from our credit card program and lower incentive compensation expense,” Scarborough noted.

The Houston-based operator of 366 stores in 13 states said it expects to close on its sale of its private label credit card business to Alliance Data Systems in September. In addition, it will introduce Polo by Ralph Lauren in five of its stores this month and will increase that number to 25 stores in October.

For the six months, income fell 20 percent to $22.5 million, or $1.14, from $28.1 million, or $1.29, last year. Sales fell 2.1 percent to $405.7 million from $414.2 million.

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