Dillard’s posts a profit

Little Rock, Ark. – Dillard’s reversed a fourth quarter net loss from a year-ago, with a profit of $79.5 million, or $1.08 per share, in this year’s Q4.

Chairman and ceo William Dillard II credited cost reductions as well as a gross margin improvement of 820 basis points.

“Moving ahead, we will maintain our disciplined approach to these areas while effecting continued merchandise mix improvements to further strengthen our appeal to the Dillard’s customer,” he said.

 Sales for the quarter ended Jan. 30 fell 10.0% to $1.8 billion. Excluding CDI Contractors, which the company fully acquired in 2008, merchandise sales fell 9.0% to $1.794 billion. Comps fell 8.0%.

 For the year, net income was $68.5 million, or 93 cents per share, compared to a net loss a year ago of $241.1 million, or $3.25 per share. 

Sales fell 10.8% to $6.095 billion on the year. Excluding CDI, sales fell 13.0% to $5.89 billion. Comps declined 10.0%.

Wall Street warmed to the news. By midday, trading was three times the stock’s average volume, and the share price briefly skipped above $20, up nearly 20%, for a 52-week high.

 Dillard’s closed six stores during the year, four of them during the fourth quarter. The 297-unit retailer plans to open two stores this year: Austin and Fairview, Texas.

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