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May Department Stores


reported a slight rise in first-quarter earnings Tuesday, helped by an increase in sales. But operating results fell short of the Wall Street consensus.

The company earned $76 million, or 24 cents a share, compared with $72 million, or 23 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. The latest results included store divestiture costs of $7 million. In July 2003, the company said it would divest 34 underperforming department stores.

Excluding divestiture-related costs, the company earned $81 million, or 26 cents a share, in the first quarter. Analysts were calling for 27 cents a share.

Total sales in the quarter were $2.96 billion, up from the prior-year quarter's $2.87 billion. The company said same-store sales increased 1.7%. The quarter's sales were strong in ladies' accessories, footwear and apparel. Handbags and small leather goods were also big sellers.

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Children's, dresses and home furnishings lagged overall store performance, however, May said.

The operator of Filene's, Lord & Taylor and David's Bridal, among other national chains, has over 1,000 stores and is based in St. Louis.

Shares of May closed at $28.78 Monday on the

New York Stock Exchange


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