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At Kohl's, Home the Headliner Business in Q1

MENOMONEE FALLS, WIS. - Home led the way at Kohl's during the first quarter, throwing off the best comp results among all departments.
     "From a line of business, home reported the strongest comps, driven by strength in tabletop, food prep, electrics and bedding," noted Kevin Mansell, chairman, president and ceo, during the mid-tier department store's earings conference call earlier this month.
     Also significant during the quarter were strong e-commerce sales, which increased by 47% to $187 million over the year-ago period, keeping up the pace for Kohl's lofty expectations for this segment this year.
     "Our e-commerce business remains on track to achieve $1 billion in sales in 2011," Mansell added. "To achieve that goal, we will continue to invest in the business as we purchased a third e-commerce fulfillment center in Maryland that will be on-line to support Holiday 2011 peak season."
     Kohl's overall first-quarter results were not up to par, Mansell said, with the exception of the retailer's noteworthy 14% increase in diluted earnings per share to 73 cents.
     Net income rose 6.0% gain in net income to $211 million, while sales increased 3.1% to $4.2 billion. Comps were up 1.3%.
     The double-digit growth in earnings per share came thanks to "strong expense management and continued gross margin improvement," Mansell said.
     On the topic of price increases, Mansell made a brief note that Kohl's will be elevating tickets more broadly across the store this fall, following evaluations of some current price-hike testing in specific areas - including denim and children's opening price point merchandise - through the end of June.
     Kohl's provided initial earnings guidance for the fiscal second quarter, which ends July 30, of 96 to $1.02 per share. The company also updated its guidance for fiscal 2011 to $4.25 to $4.40 per diluted share, reflecting its first quarter results and expected second quarter share repurchases, from its initial guidance of $4.05 to $4.25 per diluted share.

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