Retailers Enjoy Strong 1st Quarter

Several major retailers on Tuesday reported strong gains in first-quarter earnings, while another said its profit was tempered by a large extraordinary charge.

J. C. Penney said its earnings fell 14.3% to $54 million from a year earlier, while revenue rose about 5% to $3.2 billion in the 13-week period ended May 2.

The company said its most recent performance was affected by a $140-million, one-time provision to cover the cost of relocating its headquarters from New York to Dallas next year. In the 1986 first quarter, the company took a one-time pretax charge of $47 million for restructuring its debt.

In Los Angeles, Carter Hawley Hale Stores, which operates the Broadway and Neiman-Marcus, posted a substantial gain in first-quarter profit.

For the three months ended May 2, the company netted $17.9 million, compared to a year ago, when its net totaled only $422,000 after earnings were reduced $14.1 million by a change in accounting methods.

Without the change, earnings rose 22.6% last quarter.

Revenue declined by 4.3% to $829.4 million.

Company officials noted, however, that the 1986 quarterly revenue included $91 million from the company's John Wanamaker stores, which were sold in December.

Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati-based operator of Bullock's and I. Magnin, said its net income rose 5.9% to $50.1 million for the three months ended May 2. Revenue rose to $2.46 billion, up 7.8%.

"Sales and profit performance in the period were especially encouraging in the company's upscale department store divisions," said Howard Goldfeder, Federated's chairman and chief executive.

May Department Stores of St. Louis said that its first-quarter net income leaped 38.7% to $63.5 million on revenue of $2.3 billion, up about $200 million.

May officials offered no explanation for the hefty quarterly gain in profit.

Dayton Hudson, Minneapolis, said its net income totaled $38.1 million in the first quarter, down about $500,000 from 1986. Revenue increased 13% to $2.15 billion.

During the 1986 quarter, the company, which operates Target and Mervyn's, recorded $1.9 million in one-time losses from discontinued operations.

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