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Sept Comp Store sales up at Cato, to lift Q3 earnings

Oct '05
Fashion retailer The Cato Corporation reported sales for the five weeks ended October 1, 2005 of $62.5 million, an increase of 6 percent over sales of $59.0 million for the five week period ended October 2, 2004. Comparable store sales increased 1 percent for the month.

Sales for the thirty-five weeks ended October 1, 2005 were $540.8 million, an increase of 5 percent over sales of $513.0 million for the thirty-five weeks ended October 2, 2004. The Company's year-to-date comparable store sales were flat to last year.

John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer stated that they experienced good sell-throughs of their regular priced goods during September. Their inventory is fresh and on plan. For the third quarter, they expect earnings per diluted share to be in the range of $.06 to $.08 versus their previous guidance of $.02 to $.05 and $.06 last year.

There has been no material net impact on the Company's sales from the recent hurricanes. Eight stores remain closed due to Hurricane Katrina. Of the eight closed stores, six are expected to reopen between the beginning of October and early next year and two are closed indefinitely.

Comparable store sales for September and year-to-date reflect the removal of seven of these stores from the comp store base. Also, the Company has eight stores closed due to Hurricane Rita and is currently assessing the impact on a store by store basis.

During the month of September, the Company opened 12 new stores and relocated two stores. The new stores opened in Malvern, Arkansas, Tell City, Indiana, Keokuk, Iowa, Battle Creek, Michigan, Hobbs, New Mexico, Celina and Kenton, Ohio, Pryor, Oklahoma, and Denison, Lampasas, Pampa and Saginaw, Texas. The relocated stores are in Guntersville, Alabama and Hot Springs, Arkansas. As of October 1, 2005, the Company operated 1,209 stores in 31 states, compared to 1,141 stores in 29 states as of October 2, 2004.

Value-priced retailer The Cato Corporation offers latest junior, misses, girls and plus size fashions, shoes and accessories at low prices, every day. It is a leading specialty retailer of value-priced women's fashion apparel operating two divisions, "Cato" and "It's Fashion!". The Company offers exclusive merchandise with fashion and quality comparable to mall specialty stores at low prices, every day.

The Cato Corporation

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