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What: Shares of Dillard's (NYSE:DDS) were flying higher today, up as much as 15% on a strong first-quarter earnings report.

So what: During a quarter when many retailers struggled, Dillard's saw comparable sales increase 2%, driving earnings per share up from $2.50 a year ago to $2.56, which beat estimates at $2.41. Revenue of $1.59 billion was down marginally from a year ago due to a drop in service charges, and essentially in line with estimates at $1.6 billion. 

Now what: The company did not provide guidance on sales or profits, but the comparable-sales increase was the 15th consecutive one for Dillard's, a sign that sales growth should improve for the duration of the year as the weather improves. The department store chain also repurchased 1.7% of shares outstanding, or $65.9 million, in the quarter, helping to drive bottom-line value for investors. It has $224.5 million remaining under its current share buyback plan, which should ensure a declining share count. Dillard's shares reached a 52-week high on today's news, and shares have been climbing steadily since the recession. A flashy stock this is not, but a combination of steady sales growth and returning capital to shareholders should help the stock move higher. 

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Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dillard's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.