Cato Q3 Profit Up Despite Sales Slowdown

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Charlotte, NC–Cato Corp. reported Thursday that that its third quarter profits edged up despite a sales decline as its shoppers tightened their purse strings.

For the quarter ended Oct. 29, Cato posted a 4% increase in its net profit to $6.1 million, or 21 cents a share, from $5.9 million, or 20 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Total sales slipped 2% to $194.1 million from $198.2 million last year. Comparable store sales fell 3%.

“Our third quarter same-store sales decrease reflects the continuing difficult economic situation facing our customers,” said John Cato, chairman, president, and chief executive. “During the quarter, we maintained merchandise margin and controlled costs while benefiting from lower accrued incentive compensation.”

The company expects fourth quarter earnings to be on the lower end of its original guidance of 32 cents to 35 cents a share. For the year, the company forecast earnings of $2.18 to $2.21 a share.

Cato, which sells apparel and accessories at its Cato, Versona and It’s Fashion stores, opened 23 stores, relocated three and closed 13 stores. In the It’s Fashion division, seven stores were reopened as It’s Fashion Metro stores in the same markets.

Cato expects to open 38 stores this year, down from previous prediction for 41 stores. Cato operates 1,292 stores in 31 states