- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Women’s apparel retailer Cato Corp. said Thursday its fiscal first-quarter profit will likely decline between 5 percent and 14 percent, partly due to declining sales at established locations.

Cato said it expects earnings of 49 cents to 54 cents in the first quarter, compared with profit of 57 cents in the year-ago quarter.

The company also said it expects to report earnings per share of 98 cents to $1.17 in 2009. In 2008, the company earned $1.15 per share.

Cato said same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, will likely be flat to down 3 percent in 2009 and in the first quarter.

The company said it will open 55 stores in 2009 and will close 25 stores by the end of the year.

Cato said it expects capital expenditures of about $18 million.

The company also on Thursday posted a profit in its fiscal fourth quarter, helped by lower costs.

Shares fell 4 cents to $16.24 in afternoon trading.

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