March 11, 2008

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2007 Results

Company Introduces Guidance for Fiscal 2008

YORK, Pa., Mar 11, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT) today reported results for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2007 ended February 2, 2008.

For the thirteen-week period ended February 2, 2008, the Company reported net income of $75.2 million, or $4.43 per diluted share, compared to net income of $88.4 million, or $5.20 per diluted share for the fourteen-week period ended February 3, 2007. Net income in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 was negatively impacted by an asset impairment charge of $4.1 million on a pre-tax basis, or $0.16 per diluted share. Net income in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 included a state tax benefit of $4.1 million, or $0.24 per diluted share and a charge of $1.9 million on a pre-tax basis, or $0.08 per diluted share, to write-down the value of duplicate assets.

For the fifty-two week period ended February 2, 2008, the Company reported net income of $11.6 million, or $0.68 per diluted share, compared to net income of $46.9 million, or $2.78 per diluted share, reported in the fifty-three week period of fiscal 2006. Net income in fiscal 2007 was negatively impacted by an asset impairment charge of $4.1 million on a pre-tax basis, or $0.16 per diluted share. Net income in fiscal 2006 was positively impacted by a state tax adjustment of $4.1 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, and negatively impacted by a charge of $2.9 million on a pre-tax basis, or $0.12 per diluted share, to write-down the value of duplicate and impaired assets.

Comments

Bud Bergren, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "I am proud of how our team executed through an extremely difficult year by managing inventory and expenses, while accomplishing goals we had established for the second year of integration of Bon-Ton and Carson's. We are fully integrated and 2008 will be our first fiscal year as one company. We expect the difficult macro economic environment to continue; therefore, we will operate to a conservative plan in order to maintain our strong financial position. We believe improvements in merchandise content and inventory control, along with stringent cost controls, will allow us to maximize our earnings and cash flow in this challenging environment."

Sales

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, Bon-Ton and Carson's combined comparable store sales decreased 3.6% compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. Total sales for the thirteen weeks ended February 2, 2008 decreased 8.9% to $1,138.9 million compared to $1,249.6 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, which consisted of fourteen weeks.

Fiscal 2007 Bon-Ton comparable store sales decreased 6.5%. For informational purposes only, fiscal 2007 Carson's comparable store sales decreased 1.6%. Total sales for the fifty-two week period of fiscal 2007 increased 0.1% to $3,365.9 million compared to $3,362.3 million for the prior year period, which consisted of fifty-three weeks.

Other Income

Other income in the thirteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 decreased to $32.3 million, compared to $35.9 million in the fourteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, primarily due to a decrease in the program revenue received under the Credit Card Program Agreement ("CCPA") with HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A. ("HSBC") as a result of the reduced sales volume. Other income in the fifty-two week period of fiscal 2007 increased to $101.7 million, compared to $93.5 million in the fifty-three week prior year period, primarily due to the inclusion of thirteen weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, as compared to eight weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2006, and an increase in the program revenue received under the CCPA with HSBC.

Gross Margin

In the thirteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, gross margin dollars decreased $50.8 million compared to the fourteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. The gross margin rate for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 decreased 0.7 percentage point to 37.5% of net sales, compared to 38.3% reported in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, reflecting a weak sales environment resulting in increased promotions and markdowns. Gross margin dollars for the fifty-two week period of fiscal 2007 decreased $27.7 million compared to the fifty-three week prior year period. The fiscal 2007 gross margin rate decreased 0.9 percentage point to 36.1% of net sales, compared to 37.0% reported in fiscal 2006, reflecting the negative margin impact of the sales from Carson's stores that were included in the first five weeks of the first quarter of fiscal 2007, but not included in the first quarter of fiscal 2006. In addition, fiscal 2007 gross margin reflects increased promotions and markdowns as a result of a weak sales environment, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Selling, General and Administrative Expenses

Selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expenses in the thirteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 decreased $39.9 million to $284.9 million as compared to $324.8 million in the fourteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. The SG&A expense rate for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 was 25.0% compared to 26.0% for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. SG&A expenses for the fifty-two week period of fiscal 2007 increased $9.3 million compared to the fifty-three week prior year period. The increase in SG&A expenses is primarily attributable to the inclusion of thirteen weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 as compared to eight weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2006. The fiscal 2007 SG&A expense rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 31.7% compared to 31.4% in fiscal 2006. Integration expenses for fiscal 2007 were approximately $3.5 million.

EBITDA

EBITDA, defined as net income before interest, income taxes and depreciation and amortization, decreased $14.4 million in the thirteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 to $174.9 million as compared to $189.3 million in the fourteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. The fifty-two week fiscal 2007 EBITDA decreased $28.8 million to $251.8 million as compared to $280.6 million in the fifty-three weeks of fiscal 2006. EBITDA is not a measure recognized under generally accepted accounting principles - see Note 1 below.

Depreciation and Amortization / Amortization of Lease-related Interests

Depreciation and amortization expense, including amortization of lease-related interests, increased $4.7 million to $35.0 million in the thirteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 as compared to $30.2 million in the fourteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, primarily due to the increased expense associated with the depreciation of current and prior year capital expenditures and the asset impairment charges recorded in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. Depreciation and amortization expense, including amortization of lease-related interests, in the fifty-two week period of fiscal 2007 increased $19.2 million to $126.1 million as compared to $106.9 million in the fifty-three week period of fiscal 2006. The increase in fiscal 2007 depreciation and amortization expense is primarily attributable to the inclusion of thirteen weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 as compared to eight weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2006 and the increased expense associated with the depreciation of current and prior year capital expenditures. Fiscal 2007 includes a charge of $4.1 million to write-down impaired assets. Fiscal 2006 includes a charge of $2.9 million to write-down the value of duplicate and impaired assets.

Interest Expense, Net

Interest expense, net, decreased $2.2 million to $25.9 million in the thirteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 as compared to $28.1 million in the fourteen-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. Interest expense, net, in the fifty-two week period of fiscal 2007 increased $1.0 million to $108.2 million as compared to $107.1 million in the fifty-three week period of fiscal 2006. The increase in the year-to-date interest expense is primarily attributable to the inclusion of thirteen weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 as compared to eight weeks of Carson's operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2006, partially offset by a charge of $6.8 million recorded by the Company in the first quarter of fiscal 2006 reflecting the write-off of fees associated with a bridge facility and the early payoff of the Company's previous debt.

Guidance

Keith Plowman, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, commented, "Fiscal 2007 was a difficult year; however, as previously stated in our January sales press release, our excess borrowing capacity under our credit facility at the end of fiscal 2007 was $351 million, an increase compared to fiscal 2006. Additionally, our total debt at the end of fiscal 2007 was $42 million below last year, reflecting cash flow generated in fiscal 2007 which was utilized to reduce our debt."

Mr. Plowman continued, "We expect the retail environment to remain difficult in fiscal 2008, but we will continue to focus on strengthening our company through additional operating efficiencies to position it for the future. Our guidance for fiscal 2008 diluted earnings per share is a range of $0.20 to $0.45 and EBITDA is a range of $230 to $237 million. Assumptions reflected in this guidance include:

-- Comparable store sales of a negative 1% to a negative 2%;

-- Gross margin rate flat to fiscal 2007;

-- SG&A dollars flat to a slight increase;

-- Capital expenditures of $80 million (net of landlord contributions); and

-- Estimated weighted average shares outstanding of 17.3 million to 17.5 million."

Mr. Plowman continued, "Our guidance includes the expectation that the macro economic environment will continue to pressure retail, and we are managing our inventories, capital spending and expenses accordingly. Based on our 2008 earnings guidance, we expect to generate in excess of $50 million of cash to pay down our long-term debt. We believe we have implemented the right strategies and are managing our business to deliver sustainable long-term earnings growth."

The Company's quarterly conference call to discuss fourth quarter and fiscal 2007 results will be broadcast live today at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. To access the call, please visit the investor relations section of the Company's website at http://investors.bonton.com. An online archive of the broadcast will be available within two hours after the conclusion of the call. You may also participate by calling (888) 820-9414 at 9:55 a.m. Eastern time. A taped replay of the conference call will be available within two hours of the conclusion of the call and will remain available through Tuesday, March 25, 2008. The number to call for the taped replay is (888) 203-1112 and the conference PIN is 7275453.

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. operates 279 department stores, which includes ten furniture galleries, in 23 states in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers nameplates and, under the Parisian nameplate, three stores in the Detroit, Michigan area. The stores offer a broad assortment of brand-name fashion apparel and accessories for women, men and children, as well as cosmetics and home furnishings. For further information, please visit the investor relations section of the Company's website at http://investors.bonton.com.

Statements made in this press release, other than statements of historical information, are forward-looking and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in these statements. Factors that could cause such differences include, but are not limited to, risks related to retail businesses generally, consumer spending patterns and debt levels, additional competition from existing and new competitors, inflation, changes in the costs of fuel and other energy and transportation costs, weather conditions that could negatively impact sales, uncertainties associated with opening new stores or expanding or remodeling existing stores, the ability to attract and retain qualified management, the dependence upon key vendor relationships and the ability to obtain financing for working capital, capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. Additional factors that could cause the Company's actual results to differ from those contained in these forward-looking statements are discussed in greater detail under Item 1A of the Company's Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Note 1: As used in this release, EBITDA is defined as net income before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization and amortization of lease-related interests. EBITDA is not a measure of financial performance under generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"). However, we present EBITDA in this release because we consider it to be an important supplemental measure of our performance and believe that it is frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other interested parties to evaluate the performance of companies in our industry and by some investors to determine a company's ability to service or incur debt. In addition, our management uses EBITDA internally to compare the profitability of our stores. EBITDA is not calculated in the same manner by all companies and accordingly is not necessarily comparable to similarly entitled measures of other companies and may not be an appropriate measure for performance relative to other companies. EBITDA should not be assessed in isolation from or construed as a substitute for net income or cash flows from operations, which are prepared in accordance with GAAP. EBITDA is not intended to represent, and should not be considered to be a more meaningful measure than, or an alternative to, measures of operating performance as determined in accordance with GAAP. A reconciliation of net income to EBITDA is provided in the financial schedules accompanying this release.

              THE BON-TON STORES, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
                     CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(In thousands except share and per share data) February 2, February 3,
(Unaudited)                                       2008        2007
                                               -----------------------
Assets
Current assets:
 Cash and cash equivalents                     $   21,238  $   24,733
 Merchandise inventories                          754,802     787,487
 Prepaid expenses and other current assets         78,332      84,731
 Deferred income taxes                             17,536      17,858
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  Total current assets                            871,908     914,809
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Property, fixtures and equipment at cost, net
 of accumulated depreciation and amortization
 of $418,279 and $311,160 at February 2, 2008
 and February 3, 2007, respectively               885,455     897,886
Deferred income taxes                              87,357      76,586
Goodwill                                           17,767      27,377
Intangible assets, net of accumulated
 amortization of $21,918 and $12,087 at
 February 2, 2008 and February 3, 2007,
 respectively                                     165,872     176,700
Other long-term assets                             39,272      41,441
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  Total assets                                 $2,067,631  $2,134,799
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity
Current liabilities:
 Accounts payable                              $  220,158  $  209,742
 Accrued payroll and benefits                      49,902      68,434
 Accrued expenses                                 166,603     178,642
 Current maturities of long-term debt               5,656       5,555
 Current maturities of obligations under
  capital leases                                    2,239       1,936
 Income taxes payable                                 899      48,086
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  Total current liabilities                       445,457     512,395
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Long-term debt, less current maturities         1,079,841   1,120,169
Obligations under capital leases, less current
 maturities                                        67,217      69,456
Other long-term liabilities                       112,055      86,383
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  Total liabilities                             1,704,570   1,788,403
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders' equity:
 Preferred Stock - authorized 5,000,000 shares
  at $0.01 par value; no shares issued                  -           -
 Common Stock - authorized 40,000,000 shares
  at $0.01 par value; issued shares of
  14,614,111 and 14,469,196 at February 2,
  2008 and February 3, 2007, respectively             146         145
 Class A Common Stock - authorized 20,000,000
  shares at $0.01 par value; issued and
  outstanding shares of 2,951,490 at February 2,
  2008 and February 3, 2007                            30          30
 Treasury stock, at cost - 337,800 shares at
  February 2, 2008 and February 3, 2007            (1,387)     (1,387)
 Additional paid-in-capital                       139,805     130,875
 Accumulated other comprehensive income               799       1,189
 Retained earnings                                223,668     215,544
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  Total shareholders' equity                      363,061     346,396
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  Total liabilities and shareholders' equity   $2,067,631  $2,134,799
----------------------------------------------------------------------

              THE BON-TON STORES, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
                CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS


                        THIRTEEN    FOURTEEN    FIFTY-TWO  FIFTY-THREE
                       WEEKS ENDED WEEKS ENDED WEEKS ENDED WEEKS ENDED
                       -----------------------------------------------
(In thousands except   February 2, February 3, February 2, February 3,
 share and per share
 data)
(Unaudited)               2008        2007        2008        2007
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Net sales              $ 1,138,892 $ 1,249,633 $ 3,365,912 $ 3,362,279
Other income                32,338      35,885     101,747      93,531
----------------------------------------------------------------------
                         1,171,230   1,285,518   3,467,659   3,455,810
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Costs and expenses:
 Costs of merchandise
  sold                     711,459     771,420   2,150,131   2,118,762
 Selling, general and
  administrative           284,862     324,750   1,065,753   1,056,472
 Depreciation and
  amortization              33,819      29,096     121,125     103,189
 Amortization of
  lease-related
  interests                  1,137       1,141       4,978       3,720
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Income from operations     139,953     159,111     125,672     173,667
Interest expense, net       25,884      28,061     108,165     107,143
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Income before income
 taxes                     114,069     131,050      17,507      66,524
Income tax provision        38,871      42,656       5,945      19,641
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Net income             $    75,198 $    88,394 $    11,562 $    46,883
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Per share amounts -
 Basic:
           Net income  $      4.51 $      5.37 $      0.70 $      2.85
----------------------------------------------------------------------

 Basic weighted
  average shares
  outstanding           16,666,370  16,461,968  16,545,101  16,430,554

 Diluted:
           Net income  $      4.43 $      5.20 $      0.68 $      2.78
----------------------------------------------------------------------

 Diluted weighted
  average shares
  outstanding           16,972,704  16,986,165  17,073,198  16,841,183



Other financial data:
EBITDA (1)             $   174,909 $   189,348 $   251,775 $   280,576

(1) EBITDA Reconciliation

The following table reconciles net income to EBITDA for the periods indicated:

                                   THIRTEEN FOURTEEN  FIFTY-   FIFTY-
                                                        TWO     THREE
                                    WEEKS    WEEKS    WEEKS    WEEKS
                                     ENDED    ENDED    ENDED    ENDED
                                   -----------------------------------
(In thousands)                     February February February February
                                      2,       3,       2,       3,
(Unaudited)                          2008     2007     2008     2007
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Net income                         $ 75,198 $ 88,394 $ 11,562 $ 46,883
Adjustments:
 Income tax provision                38,871   42,656    5,945   19,641
 Interest expense, net               25,884   28,061  108,165  107,143
 Depreciation and amortization       33,819   29,096  121,125  103,189
 Amortization of lease-related
  interests                           1,137    1,141    4,978    3,720
----------------------------------------------------------------------

EBITDA                             $174,909 $189,348 $251,775 $280,576
----------------------------------------------------------------------

SOURCE: The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.
Mary Kerr, 717-751-3071
Vice President
Investor and Public Relations
mkerr@bonton.com

Copyright Business Wire 2008

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