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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Dillard’s drive-by profit plunge

May 23, 2008

Check out Dillard’s plunging profit.

In case you missed it, the department store chain operator reported a 94 percent drop in quarterly profit after the closing bell on Thursday.

“The weak economic conditions, particularly in Florida, made it extremely difficult to achieve profitable sales levels,” Chief Executive William Dillard said in a statement.

If you didn’t know Dillard’s was reporting earnings on Thursday, you weren’t alone.

The company didn’t disclose that they planned to report until less than three hours before they released results. To put it in perspective, if you gave your doctor that little notice before canceling your check up, you would still have to pay for the appointment.

While the vast majority of public companies give at least several days notice for when they plan to report earnings and often have the date on their public calendars months in advance, Dillard’s typically does not.

The retailer also shuns other modern investor-friendly practices like making executives available to answer analysts’ questions in a quarterly conference call.

But the company has been right on top of the trend of department stores getting clobbered by the weak economy. The stock is down 54 percent since the end of June, compared with the 42 percent drop by rival Macy’s and 32 percent drop by Nordstrom.

Dillard’s spokeswoman Julie Bull did not return a call seeking comment on the company’s communications policies.

Also in the basket:

Sales Everywhere: Designer Stores Join the Markdown Race  (WWD

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