Two of the nation's leading retailers, J. C. Penney and Wal-Mart Stores, reported sharply higher third-quarter earnings Tuesday.
Penney, the nation's third-largest retailer, reported a 24.7% rise in its third-quarter profit, while No. 5 Wal-Mart posted a 36% increase in net income.
Penney said its net income in the three months ended Oct. 25 was $116 million, compared to a year-earlier profit of $93 million.
Sales for the period rose to about $3.5 billion from $3.2 billion.
William R. Howell, Penney's chairman, credited the growth partly to better control of expenses, including a debt restructuring that lowered interest costs. He said gross profit margins improved in the company's retail operations as a result of lower markdowns and strong sales in both its stores and catalogue divisions.