Dillard’s shares rise on 8.4 percent rise in earnings

By Holly LaFon

Dillard’s shares on Thursday continued their upward climb as the department store chain reported an increase of 8.4 percent in its third quarter earnings.The Little Rock, Arkansas retailer’s net income for the quarter came in at $55.2 million, or $1.30 per share, compared with net income of $50.9 million, or $1.13 per share in the same quarter one year ago.

Dillard’s earnings per share for the most recent quarter were helped by a 9-cent-a-share sales credit related to the sale of a store. Excluding the sale, earnings per share were $1.21, just short of the $1.24 a share analysts were expecting.

Sales for the quarter were down 1 percent to $1.40 billion from $1.47 billion a year ago.

“Although comparable sales declined 1 percent, we were pleased with a 69-basis-point merchandise gross margin improvement, with our inventory control and with our strong operating cash flow,” said Dillard’s CEO William T. Dillard II.

“We believe we are positioned very well for the holiday season,” he added.

The third quarter marked an improvement for Dillard’s, which missed analysts’ earnings per share estimates and reported decreased margins and earnings in the second quarter.

In the past five years, shares of the company have soared more than 700 percent as it executed a substantial turnaround started in 2009. Since then, Dillard’s has expanded its gross margin to near historic highs as it cut costs and moved to higher-margin merchandise.

In NYSE trading Thursday, Dillard’s shares rose $3.35, or 3.1 percent, to close at $112.76.