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Cato Corp. sales rise 3 percent

Charlotte-based women’s clothing retailer Cato Corp. said Thursday it had $106.6 million in sales for the five weeks that ended Saturday, a 3 percent increase over $104 million in the five weeks that ended Jan. 2, 2010.

Sales at stores open for at least a year were flat.

Sales for the eleven months that ended Saturday were $862.0 million, a 5 percent increase over $820 million for the eleven months that ended Jan. 2, 2010.

Year-to-date same-store sales increased 4 percent over the prior year.

President John Cato said December same-store sales were impacted by “a difficult comparison to the prior year.”

The company estimates fourth-quarter earnings per diluted share toward the lower end of original projections of 25 to 28 cents, compared with 25 cents last year.

Cato Corp. also estimates full-year earnings to be toward the lower end of $1.94 to $1.97, compared with $1.55 last year.

The company closed seven stores in December.

It now operates 1,276 stores in 31 states, six fewer than it had Jan. 2, 2010.

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