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Sears’ Q1 net income climbs 20 percent

/ Source: The Associated Press

Retailer Sears Holdings Corp. said Thursday that its first-quarter earnings grew 20 percent on one-time gains while U.S store sales dropped.

For the quarter ending May 5, net income was $216 million, or $1.40 per share, compared with $180 million, or $1.14 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, including a legal settlement and retirement benefit, the company earned $1.10 per share compared with an adjusted figure of $1.11 per share during the first-quarter in 2006.

Revenue fell to $11.7 billion, from $12 billion during the year-ago period.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast a quarterly profit $1.22 per share on revenue of $11.6 billion. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time items.

The Hoffman Estates-based company said its improved operating results at Sears Canada and lower expenses at Sears stores in the U.S. were offset by declines at Kmart.

Overall, the company said comparable store sales, a retail industry metric of sales in stores open at least one year, fell 3.9 percent. At Sears’ U.S. stores, same-store sales dropped 3.4 percent while Kmart sales fell 4.4 percent.

The discount chain saw its revenue fall $239 million, or 5.6 percent, because of lower sales volumes for home goods, health and beauty products and food.

“In part, our domestic operating results reflect the impact of some of the same challenges being faced by our customers, such as rising energy costs and a slower housing market,” Aylwin Lewis, Sears Holdings’ chief executive officer and president, said in a statement.

Sears said it had $3.4 billion in cash and equivalents at the end of the first quarter, up from the $3.2 billion last year.

Sears shares fell $3.23, or 1.8 percent, to $180.02 Thursday.