Fred's Inc. (NASDAQ: FRED) today reported sales for the four-week fiscal month of April, which ended April 28, 2012.
Fred's total sales for the month increased 4% to $147.6 million from $141.8 million in April 2011. Comparable store sales for the month declined 0.3% versus an increase of 1.8% in the same period last year.
Fred's total sales for the first three months of fiscal 2012 increased 3% to $500.5 million compared with $484.4 million for the same period last year. On a comparable store basis, year-to-date sales decreased 0.4% versus an increase of 1.0% for the year-earlier period.
Commenting on the announcement, Bruce A. Efird, Chief Executive Officer, said, "Comparable store sales for the month were at the low end of the range we anticipated, but the 4% increase in total sales in April was at the mid-point, as new stores achieved a higher-than-expected sales performance. Our comparable stores reflected the impact of an earlier Easter holiday this year, a sharp drop-off in tobacco sales, and the continued shift of brand to generic drugs in our pharmacy department."Throughout the first quarter, we have been pleased with our team's work to improve Fred's gross margin performance and control expenses," Efird continued. "Because of these efforts, we are well positioned to reach the high end of our earnings guidance for the first quarter, as we expect earnings per diluted share to range from $0.26 to $0.28, or an increase of 8% to 17% compared with the same quarter last year, and we remain confident in our earnings forecast for the balance of fiscal 2012." During the first quarter, Fred's opened three new stores with pharmacies and four additional express pharmacy locations. Fred's Inc. operates 707 discount general merchandise stores, including 21 franchised Fred's stores, in the southeastern United States. For more information about the Company, visit Fred's Website at www.fredsinc.com. Comments in this news release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, general economic trends, changes in consumer demand or purchase patterns, delays or interruptions in the flow of merchandise between the Company's distribution centers and its stores or between the Company's suppliers and same, a disruption in the Company's data processing services, costs and delays in acquiring or developing new store sites, and other contingencies discussed in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Fred's undertakes no obligation to release revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unforeseen events, except as required to be reported under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.