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May Department Stores


reported fourth-quarter earnings today that met analysts' slightly raised estimates.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, May earned $518 million, or $1.59 a share, up from $513 million, or $1.45 a share, in the same period a year ago. According to

First Call/Thomson Financial

, 19 analysts expected the company, which is based in St. Louis, to earn $1.59.

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May reported fourth-quarter revenue of $4.95 billion, up from $4.69 billion in the same quarter one year ago. The company said same-store sales for the 13-week fourth quarter rose 1.8%. Earlier this month, May reported a

same-store sales increase of 3.4% in the month of January.

The company's board also approved an increase in the annual dividend rate to 94 cents, up from the old rate of 93 cents, first payable March 15 to shareholders of record March 1.

May operates department stores including Lord & Taylor, Hecht's and Filene's. Shares of May fell 68 cents, or 1.8%, to $37.71 in recent trading on the

New York Stock Exchange