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financial

Regional Dept. Stores Report Weak Results

The regional department stores reporting results Tuesday posted weak fourth-quarter and year-end numbers amid a tough consumer spending environment, but an optimistic outlook from one of the companies — Bon-Ton Stores Inc. — bolstered the...

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At Stage Stores, net income dropped 20 percent to $31.7 million, or 78 cents, from $39.6 million, or 88 cents, in the same period last year on sales that fell 3.7 percent to $473 million.

For the year, net income declined 4 percent to $53.1 million, or $1.24, from $55.3 million, or $1.25, in the prior year on sales that shed 0.3 percent to $1.55 billion.

The operator of Bealls and Peebles stores said carving out noncomparable items from the prior year's fourth-quarter period shows flat earnings. Management said the fourth-quarter results "benefited from our careful management of inventory levels and merchandise receipt flows, tight controls over our operating expenses and our stock repurchase activities."

Worn down by macroeconomic trends, Gottschalks reported a fourth-quarter drop in net income to $1.1 million, or 8 cents a share, from $8.9 million, or 64 cents a diluted share, during the same quarter last year. Sales in the quarter fell 14.2 percent to $204.4 million from $238.1 million. Same-store sales during the quarter fell 5.1 percent.

For the fiscal year ended Feb. 2, Gottschalks reported a net loss of $12.4 million, or 91 cents a share, versus net income the prior year of $2.6 million, or 20 cents, as sales declined 8.1 percent to $628.6 million.

James Famalette, chairman and ceo of Gottschalks, said results reflect "persistent challenges in the retail environment. Difficult economic conditions, including the weak housing market and high gas prices, also more heavily affected consumers in California, where the majority of our stores are located. Like many other retailers, we conducted deep discounting during the year, which negatively impacted our gross margin."
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