CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cato Corporation (NYSE: CATO) today reported sales for the five weeks ended March 31, 2012 of $103.9 million, an 7% increase over sales of $97.4 million for the five week period ended April 2, 2011. Same-store sales for the month increased 5%. Sales for the nine weeks ended March 31, 2012 were $187.9 million, a 2% increase over sales of $183.6 million for the nine weeks ended April 2, 2011. The Company's year-to-date same-store sales were flat to the prior year. March sales were favorably impacted by the shift of Easter to early April this year versus late April last year. We expect April sales will be unfavorably impacted. Because of this shift, the best measure for performance is the combined sales for the two months. "In addition to the impact of the Easter shift, March sales benefited from warmer weather and the delayed flow of tax refunds," said John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. "We continue to expect earnings per diluted share for the first quarter will be in the range of $1.04 to $1.09 vs. $1.04 last year." During the month of March, the Company opened five stores. Stores opened in Marietta, GA, Branson and Eureka, MO, Eden, NC and Mentor, OH. As of March 31, 2012, the Company operated 1,292 stores in 31 states, compared to 1,282 stores in 31 states as of April 2, 2011. The Cato Corporation is a leading specialty retailer of value-priced fashion apparel and accessories operating three concepts, "Cato", "Versona" and "It's Fashion". The Company's Cato stores offer exclusive merchandise with fashion and quality comparable to mall specialty stores at low prices every day. Versona is a unique fashion destination offering accessories and apparel including jewelry, handbags and shoes at exceptional prices every day. It's Fashion offers fashion with a focus on the latest trendy styles and nationally recognized urban brands for the entire family at low prices every day. Additional information on The Cato Corporation is available at www.catocorp.com. Statements in this press release not historical in nature including, without limitation, statements regarding the Company's expected financial results for the first quarter are considered "forward-looking" within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations that are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the following: general economic conditions; competitive factors and pricing pressures; the Company's ability to predict fashion trends; consumer apparel buying patterns; adverse weather conditions and inventory risks due to shifts in market demand. The Company does not undertake to publicly update or revise the forward-looking statements even if experience or future changes make it clear that the projected results expressed or implied therein will not be realized. The Company is not responsible for any changes made to this press release by wire or Internet services.