U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 19 mins

Bon-Ton's 1st-quarter loss beats expectations

YORK, Pa. (AP) -- The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. narrowed its fiscal first-quarter loss on fewer markdowns and improved revenue at its chain of department stores.

The quarter's results came in ahead of market expectations and the company reaffirmed its full-year outlook, sending its shares up in trading Thursday.

The company posted a loss of $26.6 million, or $1.41 per share, for the quarter that ended May 4. That is compared with a loss of $40.8 million, or $2.23 per share, in the same quarter last year. Its total revenue increased to $661.9 million from $654.3 million.

Analysts polled by FactSet were anticipating a loss of $1.48 per share on revenue of $658.9 million.

Bon-Ton's President and CEO Brendan Hoffman said that the quarter reflected the company's progress on its strategic initiatives.

The company's revenue from its stores open at least a year, considered a key industry indicator of financial performance, increased 1.2 percent, despite poor weather. Improvements to its online business helped increase sales for that segment. And the company said that store credit card sales increased on its efforts to drive this business.

Bon-Ton reaffirmed its 2013 guidance, saying it expects to earn between 40 cents per share to $1 for the year. Analysts were anticipating earnings of 92 cents per share for the year.

The company, with headquarters in York, Pa. and Milwaukee, Wis., operates 272 department stores in 24 states.

Shares of Bon-Ton increased 19 cents to $19.58 in afternoon trading. The stock has rallied 61 percent in the year to date.