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Belk Ups Profit on Lower Sales

By tightening inventory and controlling other costs, southern regional department store operator Belk, Inc. boosted second quarter profits to $8.2 million, a 9.3% rise from the year-ago period.

Sales of $829.3 million at the 307-store chain were down 5.6% and comps slipped 4.0%. "While sales results were disappointing, we were pleased to deliver a profit improvement through the hard work and efforts of our associates throughout the company," said chairman and ceo Tim Belk.

The results showed a distinct turnaround from the first quarter, as net income six months year-to-date was just $13.3 million compared to $17.0 million for the year-ago period, while first-half sales fell 7.7% and comps dropped 6.4%.