Cato 2012 Annual Meeting Highlights

CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cato Corporation (NYSE: CATO) held its Annual Shareholders' Meeting on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at its corporate offices in Charlotte, NC.

John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, commented on the Company's performance in 2011, its second consecutive record year.  The Company generated a 10% increase in net income and an 11% increase in earnings per diluted share.  Mr. Cato also noted the Company recently reported a 4% increase in net income and a 5% increase in earnings per diluted share for the first quarter of 2012, another record first quarter.  "Cato has posted four consecutive years of strong earnings performance and two straight years with record net income in a very tough environment by continuing to focus on the customer and getting better at all aspects of our business," stated Mr. Cato.

Mr. Cato noted the Company continues to expect that 2012 will again be a very difficult environment with many of Cato's customers still feeling the effects of high gas and food prices and slow job growth.  In discussing the Company growth plans for the current year, he added the Company now expects to open 40 stores for the year including 15 Cato stores, 17 Versona Accessories stores and eight It's Fashion Metro stores and that all three concepts provide growth opportunities for the future.

Mr. Cato commented on the Company's cash position stating, "It provides many advantages and provides a solid foundation from which to grow our business over the long-term.  As has long been our practice, we utilize our cash to internally fund new concepts and store development, meet infrastructure needs and provide additional value to long-term shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.  Simply put, it gives us critical flexibility in a changing and volatile world."

Mr. Cato also discussed infrastructure investments the Company is making to accommodate and support the Company's growth.  The projects include the addition of office space to its existing building to support growth, now and in the future.   When the addition is complete, the existing building will be retrofitted to improve efficiency of operation and the working environment for associates.  Mr. Cato commented, "We are also in the process of reviewing alternatives to our distribution facilities including an additional distribution center.  This will allow us to meet our growth plans and distribute goods more efficiently.  In addition, we will include space requirements to implement online sales as we develop our future e-commerce strategy."

In a meeting of the Board of Directors prior to the Annual Meeting, the Board increased the Company's dividend 9% to $1.00 on an annualized basis.  The new dividend represents a yield of 3.5% based on the May 24 closing price.

During the Annual Meeting, shareholders re-elected John P.D. Cato, Thomas E. Meckley and Bailey W. Patrick to three-year terms ending in 2015.  Shareholders also ratified the selection of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as the Company's independent registered public accounting firm for fiscal 2012.

The Cato Corporation is a leading specialty retailer of value-priced fashion apparel and accessories operating three concepts, "Cato," "Versona" and "It's Fashion".  The Company's Cato stores offer exclusive merchandise with fashion and quality comparable to mall specialty stores at low prices every day.  Versona is a unique fashion destination offering accessories and apparel including jewelry, handbags and shoes at exceptional prices every day.  It's Fashion offers fashion with a focus on the latest trendy styles for the entire family at low prices every day.  Additional information on The Cato Corporation is available at www.catocorp.com.

Statements in this press release not historical in nature including, without limitation, statements regarding the Company's expected financial results, including the Company's dividend, possible share repurchases and expected store openings, are considered "forward-looking" within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations that are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements.  Such factors include, but are not limited to, the following: general economic conditions; competitive factors and pricing pressures; the Company's ability to predict fashion trends; consumer apparel buying patterns; adverse weather conditions and inventory risks due to shifts in market demand.  Additional information concerning these and other important factors can be found in Item 1A. "Risk Factors" of the Company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and any subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company does not undertake to publicly update or revise the forward-looking statements even if experience or future changes make it clear that the projected results expressed or implied therein will not be realized.  The Company is not responsible for any changes made to this press release by wire or Internet services.

SOURCE The Cato Corporation



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