Just like last quarter, the J. Jill acquisition is still hanging heavily on Talbots (NYSE:TLB). Talbots' first-quarter profit fell as it continued to experience expenses from the acquisition, but the retailer did meet its previously lowered forecast.

First-quarter net income at Talbots was $5.2 million, or $0.10 per share, including $0.13 per share in costs related to swallowing J. Jill. The company said that on a stand-alone basis, Talbots was responsible for a profit of $0.31 per share, while J. Jill reported a loss of $0.09 per share. That compares to the $0.51 per share in earnings Talbots reported on its own last year this time. However, bear in mind one important thing: that $0.51 per share last year this time represented a 21% decline compared to the year before that, so having a short memory doesn't pay off. After all, operating income dropped by more than half to $17.3 million.

Talbots' sales increased 5.5% to $573.6 million, and comps decreased by 3.5%. By brand, Talbots' first-quarter same-store sales dropped 3.9%, while J. Jill's dipped 1.2%. We can't check inventory levels, so I'll complain about that later.

Although Talbots head Arnold Zetcher (who will retire in less than a year) said the company is encouraged by May so far, experiencing better sales trends at both brands, it's still cautious about the second quarter. Zetcher said he's optimistic about the second half of the year, when he believes the retailer's merchandise will more closely match what its customers are looking for (thanks to a new merchandising team), and its inventory will be scaled down to minimize markdowns. But still, I'd think investors would take a bit more of a wait-and-see attitude, considering the brands' track records here lately.

If you've been following this sector, you know Talbots and J. Jill have faced difficulties for quite some time, and the company has plenty of rivals that are trying to woo the mature female demographic. Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ:CWTR), Chico's (NYSE:CHS), and Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN) are all serious contenders. And of course, many of us who follow retail probably noticed that Gap (NYSE:GPS) decided not to proceed with its Forth & Towne concept, which would have served the same demographic. While Gap has its own problems these days, one might wonder how much the decision had to do with trying to enter a market that already has plenty of strong and hungry contenders.

Wait! There's more. There's no balance sheet or statement of cash flows included in Talbots' press release. Although many companies neglect to include these and instead wait to include them with later SEC filings (and we here at the Fool don't particularly like it when they do that), Talbots has traditionally included these financial statements with its press release (last quarter, that's how I realized that Talbots' long-term debt had grown by 289.2%, and free cash flow had decreased by 78.2%). Why the change in policy?

Trading at 16 times forward earnings sounds like a high price to pay when Talbots still has a lot to prove. Personally, I see no reason to try Talbots stock on for size right now.

Take a walk down memory lane for Talbots:

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