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Belk Back in the Black in 2009, Declares Dividend

Belk Inc. today reported net income of $67.1 million for the recently completed fiscal year, reversing the $213.0 million loss it posted in 2008.

“We saw steadily improving sales trends in the third and fourth quarters of the year and are encouraged about our results, especially improvements in our merchandise margins,” said Tim Belk, chairman and ceo.

He continued: “We were able to generate significant cash flow and ended the year with $586 million in cash. This strengthens our balance sheet and positions us to make strategic investments for long-term growth and success.”

For the year ended Jan. 30, sales fell 4.4% to $3.35 billion and comps declined 4.6%. Much of that decrease was attributed to a significant drop in consumer spending during the first half of the year .

Net income excluding non-comparable items for the year was $95.2 million compared to $53.1 million for the prior year.

Belk opened three new stores last year: Newnan, Ga., Winder, Ga. and Richmond, Ky. It completed three store expansions: Knoxville, Tenn. (Colonial Pinnacle at Turkey Creek), Ashland, Ky. and Hilton Head Island, S.C.

The company also declared a regular dividend of 40 cents per share and a special one-time additional dividend of 40 cents per share for shareholders of record on April 1, 2010.

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