Value-priced women's fashion retailer The Cato Corporation today (20 May) posted an 11% jump in first quarter profit, helped by higher sales and lower markdowns.

Net income for the three months to 2 May rose to $18.8m or $0.64 per share, up from $16.9m or $0.57 per share in the same period last year.

Sales were up 5% to $238.1m from $225.8m, and same-store sales rose 3%.

"Sales and markdowns for the first quarter were better than expected and resulted in higher merchandise margin," said John Cato, chairman, president, and chief executive officer.

But he warned that comparable store sales are likely to be down 3% to flat for the second quarter and for the balance of the year.

The company sees second quarter earnings per share in the range of $0.48 to $0.54, up from last year's $0.41, with full year earnings in a range of $1.13 to $1.27 versus $1.14 last time.