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Dillard's Strong Earnings Overshadowed by Flat Gross Margin

DDS' price drop has put players climbing aboard

by 11/11/2011 1:15:30 PM
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Before the bell sounded this morning, Dillard's Inc. (DDS - 50.05) took its turn in the earnings confessional. DDS reported a third-quarter profit of $26.6 million, or 50 cents per share, compared to a year-ago profit of $14.4 million, or 22 cents per share. Revenue, meanwhile, increased 2.9% to land at $1.38 billion. Following in the footsteps of fellow retailers Kohl's (KSS) and Macy's (M) , the results came in better than expected, as analysts, on average were projecting earnings of 32 cents per share on revenue of $1.37 billion.

It is DDS' unchanged gross margin -- or how profitable the products being sold are -- that Wall Street is focusing on today, with the shares down around 8% at mid-day. The stagnant quarterly gross margin is haunting the Arkansas-based retailer yet again, as it did when the stock gapped significantly lower on the heels of its second-quarter earnings in August. Overall, the security has enjoyed a hefty 45% year-to-date gain.

Daily price chart of DDS since August 2011

It appears, however, that options players have been bullish toward the stock over the last two weeks. DDS' 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 2.26 shows a distinct preference for calls bought to open over puts. This ratio ranks higher than 81% of similar readings taken over the past year, indicating that bullish bets have been picked up over bearish at an accelerated clip.

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