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Dillard's 4Q profits jump by 54.5%

Launching a major earnings recovery after a long string of disappointing results, Dillard's Inc. said fourth-quarter profits jumped up by 54.5 percent, to $102.0 million from $66.0 million last year, fueled by stronger margins, lower costs and a cut in interest expense after paying off some long-term debt.

But stunted by a weak retail environment, particularly for high-price department stores, sales fell off by 4.8 percent, to $2.5 billion from $2.7 billion. Same-store sales declined by 1 percent.

Driving the big earnings improvement, Dillard's pared its costs by 70 basis points, to 22.6 percent of sales from 23.3 percent despite the dropoff in sales. Measured in dollars, costs were whittled down by 7.9 percent, to $571.0 million, a cash savings of $49.0 million. Average gross margin widened by 100 basis points, to 32.8 percent from 31.8 percent, even with the sales decline. And interest expense was cut by 16.1 percent, to $47.0 million from $56.0 million, generating another pre-tax savings of $9.0 million.

Dillard's Inc.

Qtr. 2/2/02 (x000) 2002 2001 % chg
a-Fourth-quarter results include a $2 million asset impairment and store closing charge vs. $51 million a year ago; and a $1 million gain on the early retirement of debt vs. a $7 million year-ago gain.
b-12-month results include a $4 million asset impairment and store closing charge vs. $51 million in 2001; and a $6 million gain on the early retirement of debt vs. $27 million last year
Sales $2,534,000 $2,662,000 -4.8
Oper. income (EBIT) 243,000 214,000 13.6
Net income 102,000a 66,000a 54.5
Per share (diluted) 1.21 0.78 55.1
Average gross margin 32.8% 31.8%
SG&A expenses 22.6% 23.3%
12 months 2002 2001 % chg
Sales 8,155,000 8,567,000 -4.8
Oper. income (EBIT) 378,000 492,000 -23.2
Net income 72,000b (6,000)b
Per share (diluted) 0.85 (0.06)
Average gross margin 32.5% 32.2%
SG&A expenses 26.9% 25.9%


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