JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) ¿ Discount retailer Stein Mart Inc. said Thursday it moved to a profit in the third quarter despite a drop in sales because it recorded fewer markdowns and reduced operating costs.

The retailer earned $3.2 million, or 7 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Oct. 31. That compares to a loss of $14.1 million, or 34 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Stein Mart said its gross profit rose primarily due to higher markups and fewer markdowns. It also said it cut operating expenses and spent less on advertising, store closings and depreciation expenses.

Selling, general and administrative expenses slid to $73.3 million from $93.5 million.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $270.2 million from $298.8 million.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 6.2 percent during the quarter. Sales at stores open at least a year are a key measure of retailer performance because they measure growth from existing stores rather than from newly opened ones.

Stein Mart shares rose 92 cents, or 9 percent, to $11.14 in afternoon trading. The stock has ranged from 99 cents to $13.75 over the past year.
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