The Cato Corporation held its Annual Shareholders Meeting on Thursday, May 24, 2007 at its corporate offices in Charlotte, NC. In his address to shareholders, John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, highlighted the Company's 2006 performance, including a 15% increase in both net income and earnings per diluted share, and the opening of 58 new stores.
Mr. Cato discussed the success of the Cato private label noting, "Since we introduced the Cato label two years ago, customers have associated it with on- trend fashion, high quality, exclusive styling, consistent fit and exceptional value." He also discussed improvements and initiatives in the Company's product development function. Mr. Cato commented, "We have continued to leverage our direct sourcing to increase margins and improve the quality of our offering."
In reviewing the Company's outlook for 2007, Mr. Cato discussed the difficult economic environment facing consumers today and the fact that this will create a challenging year. Mr. Cato stated, "Regardless of the challenges we face this year, we will continue to focus on innovation and improvement to provide high quality, fashion and value to our customers, opportunity for growth to our associates and increasing value and return to our shareholders."
In a meeting of the Board of Directors prior to the Annual Meeting, the Board increased the Company's dividend to $0.66 on an annualized basis, a 10% increase. This follows a 15% increase in May 2006.
During the Annual Meeting, shareholders approved the re-election of three Board members, George S. Currin, A.F. "Pete" Sloan, and D. Harding Stowe. Shareholders also ratified the selection of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as the Company's independent registered public accounting firm for fiscal 2007.