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Dillard's sees 4Q profits jump

Little Rock — Launching a major earnings recovery after a long string of disappointing results, Dillard's Inc. said fourth-quarter profits jumped up by 54.5 percent, to $102.0 million from $66.0 million last year, fueled by stronger margins, lower costs and a cut in interest expense after paying off some long-term debt.

But stunted by a weak retail environment, particularly for high-price department stores, sales fell off by 4.8 percent, to $2.5 billion from $2.7 billion. Same-store sales declined by 1 percent.

Driving the big earnings improvement, Dillard's pared its costs by 70 basis points, to 22.6 percent of sales from 23.3 percent despite the dropoff in sales. Measured in dollars, costs were whittled down by 7.9 percent, to $571 million, a cash savings of $49 million.

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