Dillard's Becomes Latest Victim of Department-Store Slump

Dillard’s Inc. tumbled 6.4 percent in New York trading after posting disappointing earnings, adding to concern that the U.S. department-store industry is mired in a slump.

The company’s same-store sales -- a key benchmark -- declined 4 percent last quarter, according to a statement on Monday. Excluding some items, profit amounted to $1.03 a share in the period, which ended Oct. 31. Analysts had projected $1.20.

“We are disappointed with our third-quarter sales performance and in the resulting decline in profit,” Chief Executive Officer William T. Dillard said in the statement. The company is focused on buying back stock, he said, with the repurchases totaling $175 million last quarter.

Dillard’s results are the latest in a string of disappointing earnings from department stores, stoking fears they won’t draw enough foot traffic during the crucial holiday season. Last week, Macy’s Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. also missed analysts’ sales estimates. Macy’s, the largest department-store company, cited unseasonably warm weather and a shift in consumer spending toward houses and cars.

Dillard’s shares fell $4.99 to $72.52 at the close of trading in New York. The stock has now declined 42 percent this year.

The company’s total revenue fell almost 2 percent to $1.47 billion last quarter, missing the average analyst estimate of $1.5 billion.

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