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Stein Mart Reverses Losses

Stein Mart continued to struggle in quarterly net sales and comps, but managed to reverse two years of losses.

For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, net income was $2.7 million or 6 cents per share compared to a net loss of $56.2 million or $1.35 per share for the fourth quarter of 2008. That includes $8.7 million in pre-tax store closing and impairment charges.

Sales fell 6.1% to $341.8 million and comps decreased 3.8% from the same period last year.

For the year, by lowering costs and pushing gross profit to 27.1% of sales from 22.2% in the previous year, Stein Mart swung to a profit of $23.6 million, or .54 per share compared. In the previous fiscal, it posted a net loss of $71.3 million or $1.72 per share in 2008. The 2009 results included $11.1 million in pre-tax charges for store closings.

Sales for the year dropped 8.1% to $1.2 billion, and comps fell 5.6%.

Stein Mart's real estate plans for 2010 are conservative, said David Stovall Jr., president and ceo. The 267-units retailer plans to relocate five to 10 stores, close four units and open three.

“Our first priority is improving sales, while continuing to focus on expense and operating controls,” Stovall continued. “With the added leadership of Brian Morrow as chief merchant, the full deployment of our new supply chain process and a significant information systems enhancement, we believe we are correctly positioned to further improve our business and give customers even more reason to visit our stores.”

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