Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stein Mart Reports Rosy Sales, Raises Earnings Forecast; Nationally, Consumers Overcome Some of Their Reluctance to Shop

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stein Mart Reports Rosy Sales, Raises Earnings Forecast; Nationally, Consumers Overcome Some of Their Reluctance to Shop

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BASCH

Stein Mart Inc. Thursday reported strong April sales and raised its earnings forecast on a day when the nation's major retailers reported a wide variety of sales results.

Jacksonville-based Stein Mart said total sales for the four weeks ended April 30 rose 8.1 percent to $121.7 million and comparable store sales rose 6.2 percent.

"Our spring merchandise assortment continues to draw an enthusiastic response from customers," said a statement by Stein Mart President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Fisher.

Because of the strong April, Stein Mart said earnings for the first quarter will be better than expected. The company in March predicted earnings for the quarter would be at the low end of a range of between 33 cents and 35 cents a share. But Thursday, it said earnings will be between 36 cents and 37 cents a share.

Stein Mart, which operates 258 retail fashion stores across the country, said total sales for the first quarter rose 4.4 percent to $380.7 million and comparable store sales rose 3.2 percent. It will report final earnings figures for the quarter on May 19.

Nationally, consumers overcame some of their reluctance to shop in April, giving the nation's retailers sales that modestly beat expectations, the Associated Press reported. Results again varied widely among merchants, reflecting shoppers' uncertainty about the economy and struggles with higher gasoline prices.

As stores reported their monthly sales Thursday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, and rival discounter Target Corp. turned in disappointing performances. But teen retailers, luxury stores and wholesale clubs had substantial sales gains. Another standout was J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which reported gains that beat estimates.

"The results were uneven, but there were clear pockets of strength," said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The International Council of Shopping Centers-UBS sales tally of 70 stores posted a 2. …

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