Stein Mart's stock jumps after strong earnings report

Despite continued declining sales, Stein Mart Inc. reported unexpectedly strong first-quarter earnings Thursday, sending its stock to its highest level in 18 months.

The Jacksonville-based fashion retailer reported net income of $16.1 million, or 38 cents a share, in the first quarter ended May 2. Analysts had been expecting Stein Mart’s results to be about even with the first quarter of 2008, when it earned $7 million, or 17 cents a share.

Earnings rose sharply despite lower sales. As previously reported, Stein Mart’s total sales fell 9.2 percent in the quarter, to $319.6 million, and comparable store sales fell 8 percent.

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A suspicious item was discovered Wednesday afternoon at the Savannah River National Laboratory which prompted emergency responseactivities.

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