CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cato Corporation (NYSE: CATO) held its Annual Shareholders' Meeting on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at its corporate offices in Charlotte, NC. John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, commented on the Company's performance in 2012, the second best year in its history. However, due to the difficult economic times in 2012, the Company saw both net income and earnings per diluted share decline 5% from the record prior year. Cato continued to reward its long-term shareholders by accelerating the full 2013 dividend of $1.00 per share into 2012 and also paid a special dividend of an additional $1.00 a share at the same time for a total of $2.98 per share. In all, the Company returned more than $87 million to shareholders in 2012. Mr. Cato noted that many of Cato's customers are still feeling the effects of high gas and food prices and slow job growth. Combined with higher payroll taxes, their budgets continue to be squeezed. The Company continues to expect that 2013 will again be very challenging. In discussing growth plans for the current year, the Company expects to open 65 new stores for the year including 40 Cato, 15 Versona Accessories, and 10 It's Fashion stores. Mr. Cato commented on the Company's cash position stating, "We believe our cash balance provides many advantages and provides us a solid foundation. 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. In this volatile environment, it will give us the flexibility to continue to grow our business for the long-term."