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Dillard's Surges on First-Quarter Earnings Beat

Dillard's says sales rose as 'vaccinations increased, stimulus money was released and warmer weather arrived.'
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Dillard's  (DDS)  was surging Friday after the department-store operator swung to a first-quarter profit.

Shares of the Little Rock, Ark., company at last check leaped 22% to $124.82.

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For the quarter ended May 1 Dillard's reported net income of $158.2 million, or $7.25 a share, swinging from a net loss of $162 million, or $6.94 a share, in the year-earlier quarter. The latest result was above the FactSet analyst consensus for earnings of $1.20 a share.

Included in net income for the quarter is a gain of $19.2 million, or 88 cents a share, related primarily to the sale of three store properties.

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Revenue totaled $1.36 billion, up 65% from $821.6 million a year earlier, and ahead of the FactSet consensus for $1.3 billion.

Total retail sales increased 73%. Some of the stronger performing categories included juniors' and children's apparel, men's apparel and accessories and ladies' accessories and lingerie.

Consolidated gross margin improved to 41.7% from 12.5% for the year-earlier first quarter.

Management attributed the substantial improvement in gross margin to better inventory management and customer demand leading to decreased markdowns in the first quarter of 2021.

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"There are a lot of good things to say about this quarter," Chief Executive William Dillard II said in a statement. "As vaccinations increased, stimulus money was released and warmer weather arrived, we saw sales increase over 2019 levels, with momentum continuing throughout the quarter."

With strong cash flow, Dillard's added, "we accomplished $59 million in share repurchase while still ending the quarter with $616 million in cash."

Dillards operates 250 Dillard’s locations and 31 clearance centers in 29 states. 

In January, Deutsche Bank upgraded the company to hold from sell.