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Coldwater profitable in first quarter

Sandpoint-based women’s apparel retailer Coldwater Creek Inc. said it earned $2.3 million, or 3 cents a share, compared with a loss of $7.6 million, or 8 cents a share, a year earlier.

Wednesday’s earnings report reflected the first profitable quarter for Coldwater Creek since late 2007. As consumers kept their wallets closed, the company has sliced operating costs, upgraded merchandise lineups and closed stores.

Company officials said first quarter revenue rose 6 percent to $243.1 million compared with $228.4 million in the fiscal 2009 first quarter.

Sales in the retail segment – which includes outlets, premium stores and spas – were $176 million, versus $170.7 million from the same quarter one year ago.

Online and catalog sales led the growth, increasing 16 percent to $67.1 million compared to $57.7 million one year earlier.

Premium store sales increased 1 percent in the first quarter versus the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Company CEO Dennis Pence said in the earnings call that the plan is to move inventory in the second quarter with clearance sales, then push summer sales.

The company opened four premium stores and closed one premium retail store and one outlet store during the first quarter, leaving it with 359 retail stores. It still plans to open approximately 20 new retail stores in fiscal 2010.