Dillard's Expects More Cash to Flow to Shareholders

Dillard's Inc. CEO William Dillard II said Saturday that the department store chain has paid $1.7 billion to shareholders over the last five years — and that trend should continue.

"We think we're going to be in a position to continue to generate more funds for the business than we're going to reasonably invest, and [we] expect to return cash to the shareholders," Dillard said during the approximately five-minute annual shareholders' meeting at the company's Little Rock headquarters.

Dillard also touted its stock price hitting an all-time high on Friday, closing at $111, up 14.9 percent from Thursday's close.

Dillard reminded the group of about 20 people that its stock price reached an all-time low in November 2008, when it closed at $2.78.

Since then it's been on a steady climb. At the annual meeting in 2009, its price was $7.51.

"The last five years, the balance sheet says a lot about why things are better," Dillard said.

For the fiscal year that ended Feb. 1, Dillard's reported $6.53 billion in sales and a net income of $323.7 million. In the previous year, it reported $6.6 billion in sales and a net income of $336 million.

But for its fiscal 2009, Dillard's reported $6.1 billion in sales and a net income of $68.5 million. It also operated 309 stores at the end of the 2009 fiscal year.

During the fiscal year that ended in February, Dillard's had closed six stores, leaving 296 in operation.

"It's fairly easy to have an annual meeting when the numbers are good," Dillard said.

Also during the meeting, it was announced that the shareholders re-elected the company's board of directors.

Dillard's board is controlled by Dillard family members under a dual-class stock arrangement. Class A stock (NYSE: DDS) is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, but holders of the Class B shares, owned almost exclusively by CEO Dillard and his family members, have the right to choose eight of the 12 corporate directors.

Shareholders also approved the accounting firm KPMG LLP again for fiscal 2014.

On Thursday, Dillard's reported a first-quarter profit of $111.7 million, down about 5 percent from the $117.2 million it reported in the same quarter last year. But its same-store sales rose by 2 percent.