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Dillard's 1Q profit beats expectations

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Dillard's Inc. reported improved first-quarter profit Wednesday, as the department store operator benefited from one-time gains and better sales in its stores.

The company, based in Little Rock, Ark., said it had a strong start to the year, despite unseasonably cool weather. Sales and margins improved, and it benefited from cost controls.

Dillard's earned $117.2 million, or $2.50 per share, for the quarter that ended May 4. That compares with $95 million, or $1.89 per share, in the first quarter of last year.

After adjusting for a $7.6 million gain from the sale of an investment and $1 million gain tied to a pension adjustment, along with $4.2 million in impairment and store closing charges, it made $2.40 per share in the recent quarter, beating the $2.11 per share that analysts polled by FactSet expected.

Revenue was flat at $1.55 billion.

Merchandise revenue, which excludes revenue from its construction business, increased to $1.53 billion from $1.52 billion. The company reported its strongest sales in ladies' accessories, lingerie, juniors' and children's apparel. Sales were weakest in home and furniture categories.

Sales in stores open at least a year rose 1 percent. This is a key indicator of a retailer's financial performance, because it excludes recently opened or closed stores.

Dillard's operated 283 stores and 18 clearance centers as of the end of the quarter.

Dillard's shares rose $1.38 to close at $89.09.