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Cone records 1Q profit despite slowing sales

Greensboro, NC — Climbing back on track and returning to profitability on the strength of operational improvements — and gaining despite continued top-line erosion — Cone Mills Corp. recorded a first-quarter profit of $1.4 million, compared with a year-before loss of $2.9 million.

But sales at the diversified textiles company continued to weaken, falling by 20.2 percent, to $105.8 million form $132.7 million last year, hard hit by weakness in its core denim business and persistent softness in its home fashions business.

Cone sharply widened its margins, while keeping its costs in check. Average gross margin improved by 400 basis points, or four percentage points, to 13.5 percent from 9.5 percent a year ago, reflecting, the company said, a more efficient cost structure. Gross margin dollars increased by 14.0 percent, to $14.3 million from $12.5 million last year. Operating costs held relatively steady at 7.2 percent, compared with 7.1 percent in the year-ago period. But measured in absolute dollars, costs were pared by 18.8 percent, to $7.6 million from $9.4 million, a cash savings of $1.8 million.

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