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LITTLE ROCK, AR-Boosted by a 1% increase in sales,Dillard’s Inc. cut its net loss for the second quarterin half to $12.3 million compared to $26 million forthe same period last year. However, second quarterresults don’t compare favorably with first quarter2005 results. During the first quarter, the chainreported income of $38 million, or 46 cents a share,and sales of $1.8 billion.

During the second quarter 2005, the net loss per sharewas 15 cents compared to net loss of 31 cents lastyear. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call wereexpecting a loss of 28 cents per share and sales of$1.72 billion in the second quarter.

For the same period, the department store chain’ssales reached $1.69 billion compared to $1.67 billionfor the same period last year.

Sales were strongest in the chain’s Western region andslightly above expectations in the Eastern region. TheCentral region didn’t meet the chain’s expectations,according to its earnings news release.

In a statement Dillard’s attributed its second quarter improvement to “positive comparable store sales, improved gross margin performance, decreased advertising, selling, general and administrative expenses and decreased interest expense.” Gross margin improved 100 basis points as a percentage of sales for the second quarter compared to the second quarter 2004. “The improvement is due to a shift in the company’s product mix toward higher margin merchandise and a decrease in markdown activity,” the chain said in a statement. Moreover, advertising, selling, administrative and general expenses declined $15.4 million to $484.7 million for the quarter.

During the second quarter, Dillard’s decided to closestores in: Lexington Mall in Lexington, KY; HickoryRidge Mall in Memphis; and Richardson Mall inRichardson, TX. These stores will close in this fall.The company currently owns 329 stores in 29 states.

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