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'We had an unexpectedly strong quarter' – John Cato
26
Nov '09
The Cato Corporation reported net income of $3.0 million for the third quarter ended October 31, 2009, compared to net income of $0.8 million for the third quarter ended November 1, 2008, an increase of 262% on an unrounded basis. Earnings per diluted share for the third quarter were $0.10, compared to $0.03 last year, an increase of 233%. Sales for the third quarter ended October 31, 2009 were $191.0 million, a 6% increase over sales of $179.8 million for the third quarter ended November 1, 2008. Same-store sales for the quarter increased 4%.

The Company earned net income of $38.5 million for the nine months ended October 31, 2009, compared to net income of $29.8 million for the nine months ended November 1, 2008, an increase of 29%. Earnings per diluted share were $1.31 compared to $1.01 last year, an increase of 30%. Sales for the nine months ended October 31, 2009 were $654.4 million, a 3% increase over sales of $636.6 million for the nine months ended November 1, 2008. Year-to-date same-store sales increased 1%.

For the quarter, the gross margin rate increased to 34.8% versus 29.3% last year primarily due to better merchandise margins and lower freight costs. The SG&A rate for the quarter increased to 31.7% from 28.3% last year primarily as a result of higher accrued incentive compensation. The Company's effective tax rate was 30.2% vs. 35.4% last year as the effect of quarterly adjustments was lower than last year.

Year-to-date, the gross margin rate increased to 37.4% versus 34.5% last year primarily due to better merchandise margins and lower freight costs. The year-to-date SG&A rate increased to 27.7% from 26.8% last year primarily as a result of increased accrued incentive compensation offset by a reduction in store closing costs compared to last year. The year-to-date effective tax rate decreased to 33.7% vs. 36.4% last year.

"We had an unexpectedly strong quarter," stated John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. "However, we recognize that much uncertainty still exists for our customers in this economic environment. Due to this uncertainty, we continue to estimate that same-store sales for the fourth quarter will be in the range of down 3% to flat. Similarly, we are maintaining our original guidance for fourth quarter earnings per diluted share in the range of $0.08 to $0.13 versus $0.13 last year. For the year, earnings per diluted share are estimated to be in the range of $1.38 to $1.43 vs. $1.14 last year, an increase of 21% to 25%."

Year-to-date, the Company has opened 26 new stores, relocated one store, and closed 16 stores, 10 of which were conversions of It's Fashion stores to It's Fashion Metro stores. The Company now expects to open approximately 36 stores during 2009 as compared to its previous guidance of 46 stores. As of October 31, 2009, the Company operated 1,291 stores in 31 states, compared to 1,305 stores in 31 states as of November 1, 2008.

Cato Corporation

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