NEW YORK — Profits at Dillard Department Stores Inc. rose 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter to $118.9 million, or $1.05 a share, beating Wall Street estimates by 2 cents a share. The chain, based in Little Rock, Ark., earned $111.3 million, or 99 cents, in the year-ago quarter.
Earnings in the latest quarter include a $16 million pretax LIFO credit, mostly offset by an $11 million pretax charge for closing three clearance centers. Sales were up 6.7 percent to $1.7 billion from $1.6 billion and same-store sales were up 4 percent.
Dillard officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Gross margins slightly im-proved to 35.7 percent in the quarter from 35.3 percent. Selling, general and administrative expenses moved up to 21.3 percent of sales from 20.8 percent.
In the year ended Jan. 28, earnings moved ahead 4.4 percent to $251.8 million, or $2.23, after the charge for store closings and a $13 million pretax LIFO credit, from $241.1 million, or $2.14 a year ago.
Sales climbed 8.1 percent to $5.6 billion from $5.1 billion and same-store sales advanced 5 percent. Inventories were up 4.8 percent to $1.4 billion from $1.3 billion.
Last year, the firm added four stores, bringing the total to 231 stores operating in 21 states.
Dillard’s stock closed at 27 3/4 on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, down 3/8.
— Fairchild News Service

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