NEW YORK — Gross margin gains coupled with lower expenses allowed ShopKo Stores Inc. to return to profitability in the third quarter.

For the three months ended Nov. 2, the Green Bay, Wis.-based regional discounter posted net income of $877,000, or 3 cents a diluted share. That compares with last year when the company sustained a net loss of $5.2 million, or 18 cents. Earnings per share beat the Wall Street forecast by 3 cents. Excluding goodwill and other intangibles charges in the year-ago period, ShopKo’s net loss last year would have been a more modest $3.9 million, or 14 cents.

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