The Saks (NYSE:SKS) name holds a mystical, luxurious allure for many of us who grew up knowing the brand. But as fashionable as its stores might be, Saks delivered quarterly earnings today that didn't quite make the cut.

The department-store retailer reported first-quarter earnings of $17.1 million, or $0.12 per share. The earnings included a net gain of $1.4 million, or $0.01 per share, related to the disposition of closed stores. They also included $2 million, or $0.01 per share, in expenses related to the well-known investigation of improper collections of vendor markdown allowances. (The Fool's own Seth Jayson commented on that issue recently, when the executives involved were given the axe.) Analysts had expected first-quarter earnings of $0.16 per share from Saks.

Sales increased a mere 0.5% to $1.55 billion, with same-store sales up 1.9%. We've said here at the Fool that Saks' fate hangs on margins, among other things -- and Saks Chairman and CEO R. Brad Martin came right out and admitted in the press announcement that the company's gross margin was below plan.

Although shares of Saks and other department stores have enjoyed some excitement because of the pending marriage of Federated (NYSE:FD) and May (NYSE:MAY) and the subsequent idea of continued consolidation within the industry, Saks certainly seems among the riskier of bets at the moment. After all, its more middle-of-the-road department store rival J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) quadrupled its profits today.

Plus, the company still has the miasma of recent scandal hanging around it -- that improper-collections debacle, and the executives fired for it, mentioned in one of the articles cited above.

At some point, a stock that has had a few bumps in the road and has become a bit unfashionable -- and sometimes, even has a whiff of scandals past -- may show up on Motley Fool Inside Value guru Philip Durell's radar. He's got a knack for finding beaten-down stocks whose financial outlook has become more stable, even if many investors haven't yet noticed. While Saks may one day become a turnaround play, after today's information, investors might want to keep shopping around for the time being.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.