Cato 1st-qtr net income falls 3 pct as sales dip

Cato 1st-quarter net income falls 3 percent, as weak economy, tax issues, lead to lower sales

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Cato Corp. said Thursday its first-quarter net income fell 3 percent, saying that continued tough economic conditions and a variety of factors lowered its sales.

For the quarter ended May 4, the specialty retailer earned $30.8 million, or $1.05 per share, down from $31.7 million, or $1.09 per share, in the same quarter the year before.

Revenue decreased 2 percent to $269.7 million from $275.3 million, as revenue at stores open at least a year fell 5 percent. The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes revenue at stores that recently opened or closed.

Chairman and CEO John Cato said the sluggish economy, higher payroll taxes, delayed income tax refunds and cooler than normal weather in March and April resulted in lower sales.

For the current quarter, the Charlotte, N.C., company, which focuses on value-priced clothing and accessories, said it still expects profit to fall between 42 cents and 48 cents per share.

For the full year, Cato narrowed its guidance to a profit of between $1.66 and $1.84 per share. In March, the company projected a 2013 profit of $1.64 to $1.93 per share.

During the quarter, Cato opened three stores, relocated one and closed six, bringing its total as of May 4 to 1,307 in 31 states. It operates its namesake brand, along with Versona and It's Fashion stores.

In morning trading, Cato shares added 31 cents to $25.01. The stock has traded between $22.16 and $32.32 in the past 52 weeks and closed Wednesday down about 10 percent since the starts of the year.

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