It was more of the same for Kohl's ( KSS). Despite the shaky economy, the discount-department store hybrid reported solid gains in earnings and sales in the first quarter, beating Wall Street's forecasts. The company, based in Menomonee, Wis., reported net income of $124.4 million, or 36 cents per share, up 44% from the year-ago period when Kohl's earned $86.5 million, or 25 cents per share. On average, analysts expected the company to earn 34 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. Sales jumped 27% to $1.9 billion, while comparable-store sales, which measure activity in shops open at least a year, rose 10.6%. Kohl's can seemingly do no wrong because it has successfully reinvented the department store concept. By bringing discount prices to the table, it has performed extremely well, while traditional department stores such as Sears ( S) and J.C. Penney ( JCP) have languished. Even when the company has slipped, as it did late last year with a string of disappointing same-store sales numbers, Kohl's has bounced back quickly. And with about 420 stores in just 32 states -- many fewer than many rivals -- Kohl's has not been affected by the growth worries that have lately hampered the stocks of giants Wal-Mart ( WMT) and Home Depot ( HD). The stock, which is up slightly on the year, closed Thursday at $71.66, up $2.91, or 4.2%.