Dillard's posts $149M Q4 loss

Little Rock, Ark. Dillard's said Thursday it lost $149 million in its fourth quarter as its cost-cutting efforts were not enough to offset a steep falloff in sales.

The company said its fourth-quarter results included store-closing charges totaling $178 million and hurricane-related expenses of $2.9 million. The loss for the quarter compared with a profit of $47.3 million a year earlier.

Dillard's fourth-quarter net sales fell to $2.04 billion, from $2.16 billion a year earlier.

For the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, the company lost $241 million, compared with a profit of $53.8 million.

It closed 21 underperforming stores in 2008, including nine stores closed during the company's fourth quarter. The company said it has targeted five more for closing during 2009.

"Due to the continued dramatic economic decline during the fourth quarter, we took aggressive, but costly, action to substantially reduce our inventory position, which was down 23% year-over-year," said the company's CEO, William Dillard II. "Our extensive cost-reduction measures resulted in a $67.3 million savings but were not enough to offset the significant declines in sales and gross margin that we experienced during the quarter."

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