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Dillard's Q3 hoped to set pace for holidays

Little Rock, Ark. -- Dillard's Inc. managed a 4% sales increase and a 5% comp hike in its third quarter, but not thanks to home, which proved among the weakest categories along with furniture.

The 284-unit department store reported total merchandise sales (which exclude the company's construction business CDI) of $1.425 billion for the 13 weeks compared to $1.366 billion a year ago.

Sales trends were strongest in men's apparel and accessories, ladies accessories and lingerie and shoes. Geographically, the Central region led the way, followed by the Western and Eastern regions, respectively.

Dillard's third quarter net income dropped to $48.5 million, or $1.01 per share, against $228.2 million, or $4.31 per share last year. In the year-ago period, profit got a $202.5 million boost from an after-tax credit.

As Dillard's ceo William T. Dillard II explained, "Driven by a strong 5% sales increase, we were able to double our earnings per share for the third quarter on top of a record performance last year, after non-routine items...We are entering the holiday season confidently based on these strong results and we look forward to serving our customers at the highest possible level in the coming weeks."

Year to date, Dillard's total merchandise sales increased 4% to $4.403 billion compared to $4.247 billion, and comps were up by 4%.

Net income for the 39 weeks was $174.5 million, or $3.55 per share, compared to $322.4 million, or $5.80 per share - the latter of which the company explained had included a net after-tax credit totaling $205.8 million ($3.90 per share).

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