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 Marts 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 Marts total sales fell 9.2 percent in the quarter, to $319.6 million, and comparable store sales fell 8 percent.