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Profit Falls at May Department Stores

Net sales for the first quarter were $3.37 billion, an increase of 13.7%.
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May Department Stores


said first-quarter earnings fell from a year ago, and were hurt by weak sales of its proprietary ladies' and men's apparel brands and incremental markdowns.

The company, which is merging with

Federated Department Stores


, earned 13 cents a share for the quarter ended April 30, compared with 24 cents a share in the same period a year ago. First-quarter 2005 earnings include store divestiture costs of 2 cents a share. Excluding these costs, May earned 15 cents. The quarter also includes the benefit of a $14 million, or 5-cents-a-share income tax provision reduction.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected May to earn 16 cents a share in the first quarter. Net sales for the first quarter were $3.37 billion, an increase of 13.7% from $2.96 billion last year. Same-store sales decreased 5.1% for the quarter.

"Our 2005 first-quarter results did not meet our expectations," John Dunham, May's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.

May recorded costs of about $4 million, or 1 cent a share, related to the Federated merger in the first quarter.