CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cato Corporation (NYSE: CATO) held its Annual Shareholders' Meeting on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at its corporate offices in Charlotte, NC. John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, commented on the Company's performance in 2011, its second consecutive record year. The Company generated a 10% increase in net income and an 11% increase in earnings per diluted share. Mr. Cato also noted the Company recently reported a 4% increase in net income and a 5% increase in earnings per diluted share for the first quarter of 2012, another record first quarter. "Cato has posted four consecutive years of strong earnings performance and two straight years with record net income in a very tough environment by continuing to focus on the customer and getting better at all aspects of our business," stated Mr. Cato. Mr. Cato noted the Company continues to expect that 2012 will again be a very difficult environment with many of Cato's customers still feeling the effects of high gas and food prices and slow job growth. In discussing the Company growth plans for the current year, he added the Company now expects to open 40 stores for the year including 15 Cato stores, 17 Versona Accessories stores and eight It's Fashion Metro stores and that all three concepts provide growth opportunities for the future. Mr. Cato commented on the Company's cash position stating, "It provides many advantages and provides a solid foundation from which to grow our business over the long-term. As has long been our practice, we utilize our cash to internally fund new concepts and store development, meet infrastructure needs and provide additional value to long-term shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Simply put, it gives us critical flexibility in a changing and volatile world."