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Dillard's Shares Rise As Q1 Profit Up 24%

Shares of Dillard's, Inc. (DDS) gained more than 5 percent in extended trade Thursday after the company reported a 24 percent increase in profit for the first quarter on higher revenues and same-store sales.

The apparel and home furnishing retailer's comparable store sales, a measure used to compare sales of identical stores that have been open for a year or more, rose 5 percent in the quarter.

William Dillard, CEO of Dillard's, said, "We are happy to report a very strong start to 2012 with our seventh consecutive quarter of increased same store sales as well as record setting earnings and earnings per share performances."

The Little Rock, Arkansas-based company noted that sales performances were strong in all merchandise categories with the exception of the home and furniture and juniors' and children's apparel categories, which were below trend for the quarter.

Sales trends were strongest in ladies' accessories and lingerie, followed by shoes, men's apparel and accessories, and cosmetics.

However, consolidated gross margin for the quarter edged down to 38.4 percent from 38.8 percent during the prior-year period.

Dillard's net income for the first quarter was $95.0 million or $1.89 per share, up from $76.7 million or $1.31 per share in the year-ago period.

Two analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $1.67 per share for the quarter. Analysts estimates typically exclude special items.

The year-ago quarter's results include a gain of $1.9 million or $0.04 per share, consisting of a distribution from a mall joint venture as well as asset impairment and store closing charges.

Net sales for the quarter grew 5 percent to $1.55 billion from $1.47 billion in the prior-year quarter.

Net sales include the operations of the company's construction business, CDI Contractors, LLC. Total merchandise sales, which exclude CDI, rose to $1.52 billion from $1.46 billion in the same period last year.

During the quarter, Dillard's announced the upcoming closure of its Hutchinson Mall location in Hutchinson, Kansas. The store is expected to close during the second quarter of 2012.

As at the end of the first quarter, Dillard's operated 287 Dillard's locations and 17 clearance centers spanning 29 states, and an Internet store.

DDS closed Thursday's trading at $66.19, up $0.71 or 1.08 percent on a volume of 917,149 shares. In after-hours, the stock further gained $3.83 or 5.79 percent to $70.02.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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