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Kmart Posts $93 Million Profit in First Quarter

But same-store sales continue to fall.
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posted a $93 million profit in the first quarter, but the bottom line was helped by asset sales, and same-store results continued to show steep declines in the period.

Kmart earned 94 cents a share in the 13 weeks to April 28, reversing a loss of $862 million in the year-ago period, which came before the company's bankruptcy reorganization. Operating income in the latest quarter totaled $165 million, including net gains of $32 million.

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Overall sales were $4.62 billion in the quarter, compared with $6.18 billion a year ago. Same-store sales fell 12.9% in the latest quarter from a year ago, reflecting discounts in the year-ago quarter and a reduction in advertising in the current period.

Gross margin fell $282 million to $1.14 billion in the latest quarter from $1.42 billion a year ago, while gross margin as a percentage of sales rose to 24.6% for the 13 weeks ended April 28, 2004, from 23.0% for the comparable period a year ago. The latest period included fewer clearance sales and a lower depreciation expense.

Cash and equivalents were $2.23 billion at the end of the most recent quarter compared with $2.09 billion at Jan. 28, 2004.

"Our focus on the productivity of our asset base, exemplified by the diligent management of our inventories -- which ended the quarter at $3.4 billion, a reduction of over 23% from the prior year -- has been a primary element of our improved liquidity position," the company said in a release. "We apply similar rigor to managing the productivity of our capital assets, focusing on the need to allocate those assets to their best use. Given our success, Kmart today is a financially strong company."

The stock was up 40 cents, or 0.9%, to $44.70 on the Instinet premarket session. It's up about 87% on the year.