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Dillard's doubles its 4Q profits

LITTLE ROCK, AR -Turning the corner after a long string of earnings reversals, Dillard's Inc., the Southern department store chain, more than doubled its fourth-quarter profits, driving earnings higher by 153.8 percent, to $6g million from 22 million a year ago.

In a big lift to the bottom line, the retailer managed to work down asset impairment and store closing charges to $51 million from $70 million a year ago, a savings of $19 million, as it struggles with the aftermath of a costly and troubled buyout of Mercantile Stores.

Sales in the 14-week Christmas quarter inched up by 2.6 percent, to $2.7 billion from $2.6 billion for the 13-week quarter a year ago, lifted by the extra week of sales. But on a comparable 13-week basis, sales actually slipped by 2.0 percent on both a total and same-store basis.

The only category to post a sales gain during the holiday period was women's and junior's clothing, up 1 percent. All other categories fell back, with home fashions showing the biggest decline, down 6 percent for the quarter and 4 percent for the year.

Average gross margin declined by 20 basis points in the fourth quarter, to 31.8 percent from 32.0 percent a year ago. Still it was a big improvement over a 140 basis point decline for all of last year, to 32.2 percent from 33.6 percent.

DILLARD'S INC.


Qtr. 2/3 (x000) 2001 2000 %CHG

Sales

$2,662,000

$2,595,000

2.6

Oper. income (EBIT)

214,000

219,000

-2.3

Net income

66,000a

22,000a

153.8

Per share (diluted)

0.78

0.26

200.0

Average gross margin

31.8%

32.0%

-

SG & A expenses

23.3%

23.2%

-

12 months

2001

2000

%CHG

Sales

8,567,000

8,677,000

-1.3

Oper. income (EBIT)

492,000

666,000

-26.1

Net income

(6,000)b

164,000b

-

Per share

(0.06)

1.55

-

Average gross margin

32.2%

33.6%

-

SG & A expenses

25.9%

25.4%

-


( ): Denotes loss

a-Earnings in the fourth-quarter include an asset impairment and store closing charge of $51 million, compared with $70 million the year before; and a $7 million after-tax gain on the early retirement of debt.

b-12-month results include a $51 million asset impairment and store closing charge vs. $70 million a year ago; a $130 million one-time charge stemming from a change in accounting; and a $27 million after-tax gain on the early retirement of debt.

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