Department store retailer Kohl's Corporation is taking a conservative approach after first quarter profit fell to US$153m from $209m in 2007.

Net sales increased 1.5% to $3.6bn, but comparable store sales fell 6.7%. The first quarter profit equated to $0.49 per diluted share, compared to $0.64 the year before.

"Our first quarter results reflect strong management of inventory levels and expenses in a difficult economic environment," said Larry Montgomery, Kohl's chairman and CEO.

"We remain conservative in our sales expectations for the balance of the year and will manage our business accordingly.

"We will continue to invest for the long term as we add new stores and remodel existing stores, as well as invest in people and technology for market share gain."

The retailer expects to open another 47 new stores during the remainder of the year, making 75 new openings in the year as a whole.

Kohl's expects second quarter earnings per share of $0.70-0.74.

Based on a full-year sales increase of 2-4% and a comparable store sales decline of 3-5%, forecast earnings per share are $2.95-3.15 for the year as a whole.