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Cato Reports December Same-Store Sales Down 12%

Lowers 4Q EPS Guidance

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cato Corporation (NYSE: CATO) today reported sales for the five weeks ended December 31, 2016 of $104.4 million, a 12% decrease from sales of $118.5 million for the five weeks ended January 2, 2016.  Same-store sales for the month decreased 12%.

Sales for the eleven months ended December 31, 2016 were $901.8 million, a 5% decrease from sales of $948.5 million for the eleven months ended January 2, 2016.  The Company's year-to-date same-store sales decreased 6% to last year.

"December same-store sales results were unfortunately consistent with our recent trend," stated John Cato, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer.  "We now expect that fourth quarter earnings per diluted share will be a loss of $0.50 to a loss of $0.54, versus our previous guidance of a loss of $0.07 to a loss of $0.11 versus $0.42 last year.  The reduction in earnings per share is a result of reduced margins and store impairment charges.  The Company's estimate for full year earnings per diluted share is now in the range of $1.66 to $1.70 versus our most recent guidance of $2.08 to $2.12 and $2.39 last year."

The Company closed 6 stores during December.  As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated 1,368 stores in 33 states, compared to 1,372 stores in 32 states as of January 2, 2016.

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.  The Company also offers exclusive merchandise found in its Cato stores at  Versona is a unique fashion destination offering apparel and accessories including jewelry, handbags and shoes at exceptional prices every day.  Select Versona merchandise can also be found at  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

Statements in this press release not historical in nature including, without limitation, statements regarding the Company's expected or estimated financial results 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, including the ability to liquidate excess inventory at anticipated margins and other factors discussed under "Risk Factors" in Part I, Item 1A of the Company's most recently filed annual report on Form 10-K and in other reports the Company files with or furnishes to the SEC from time to time.  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.

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SOURCE The Cato Corporation

John R. Howe, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, 704-551-7315