Fred's Inc. (NASDAQ: FRED) today reported sales for the four-week fiscal month, fourth quarter and year ended January 28, 2012.
Fred's total sales for the month increased 3% to $132.4 million from $129.1 million in January 2011. Comparable store sales for the month declined 0.8% compared with an increase of 2.1% in the same period last year.
Total sales for the fourth quarter of 2011 increased 2% to $497.7 million compared with $485.6 million in the same period last year. On a comparable store basis, fourth quarter sales increased 0.1% on top of an increase of 2.3% in the same period last year.
Fred's total sales for fiscal 2011 increased 2% to $1.879 billion compared with $1.842 billion for fiscal 2010. On a comparable store basis, fiscal 2011 sales rose 0.5% versus an increase of 2.2% for the prior year.Commenting on the announcement, Bruce A. Efird, Chief Executive Officer, said, "We were pleased to see strong customer traffic in January, together with increasing pharmacy script counts. We also witnessed a continued solid performance in Pet and Household Supplies, two of our Core 5 departments. As in December, January sales were affected by unseasonably warm weather across our markets and the shifting of a month-end advertising circular. Although sales growth for the quarter fell short of our outlook, we still anticipate that earnings for the fourth quarter will be at the low end to midpoint of our projected range of $0.23 to $.027 per diluted share, reflecting an offsetting benefit from ongoing control of expenses. "Sales growth for 2011 remained moderate as lower-income families did not evenly experience the economic improvement and job expansion seen with higher-income levels," Efird continued. "In light of the economic environment, I am pleased with the ability of our team to accomplish both top- and bottom-line growth. The driving forces enabling us to achieve these improvements have been new core initiatives and effective cost-reduction programs instituted by the operations team. For two consecutive years, we refreshed or remodeled more than 200 stores, significantly reimaging our chain, and in 2011, we increased the pace of store openings – with 26 new stores and 24 new pharmacies. As we look toward the new year, we remain enthusiastic about our long-term strategic plan, a revamped marketing program, and the opportunities we see to drive higher sales and profits in 2012."
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