Carter Hawley Hales Stores Inc., the nation's 19th-largest retailer, reported a 25.8 percent gain in operating earnings for its first quarter ended May 2. Meanwhile, R.H. Macy & Co. said yesterday it had an 88.4 percent profit boost in its third quarter ended May 2.

However, net income for Carter Hawley Hales was level with a year ago at 21 cents a share because of a nonrecurring gain in the first quarter of last year on the sale of an interest in an affiliated company.

Net income was $6.14 million on sales of $601.2 million, compared with $6.13 million a year earlier on sales of $540.42 million. The sales gain on continuing operations was 13 1/2 percent.

Carter Hawley Hale operates 121 department stores, including the Broadway stores and John Wanamaker; and 33 high-fashion shops, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman-Marcus being among the most widely known. It also owns Contempo Casuals and Waldenbooks.

Net income for Macy's, the nation's 25th-largest retailer, was $13.8 million (84 cents a share) on sales of $578.96 million, compared with $7.32 million (45 cents) a year earlier on sales of $493.48 million.

Nine months profit was $96.60 million ($5.96) on sales of $2.048 billion, compared with $85.17 million ($5.38) a year ago on sales of $1.852 billion.

Macy's did not comment on the results.

Royal Dutch-Shell Group of Companies said yesterday its profits slumped 53.7 percent in the first quarter this year as a result of the world economic recession, rising crude oil costs, the comapny's lack of access to less-expensive Saudi Arabian crude, and the strengthened U.S. Dollar.

Based on a late-March value of $2.24 for the British pound, Shell -- the world's second-largest oil producer behind Exxon Corp. -- reported earnings for the quarter ended March 31 were $744 million, down from $1.6 billion in the same period a year ago.

Revenues, before taxes and excise duties, were $23.5 billion, up 3 percent from $22.8 billion the previous year.

Shell said its manufacturing and marketing earnings fell to $27 million from $72 million, a 62 1/2 percent drop that resulted from price increases which were insufficient to recover crude oil and other costs increases.