For the fourth quarter, the Company expects comparable store sales to increase by 3 to 4 percent. Gross profit, as a percentage of sales, for the fourth quarter is expected to be flat or modestly below the comparable 2011 period, resulting in a modest decline in the gross profit rate for the full year.
SG&A for the 2012 13-week fourth quarter is expected to increase approximately 4 percent over SG&A in the 2011 14-week fourth quarter, after excluding $10.3 million relating to the acceleration of equity-based compensation and other expenses relating to a secondary offering of the Company’s stock in the 2011 fourth quarter.
The Company now expects full year interest expense to be in the range of $130 million to $135 million.
Diluted EPS for the 52-week fiscal year, adjusted to exclude losses resulting from redemption of the senior subordinated notes, charges or expenses relating to amendments to or refinancing of any notes, loans or revolving credit facilities, the settlement of interest rate swaps and expenses resulting from secondary stock offerings, is expected to be approximately $2.82 to $2.85, including approximately $0.04 from the favorable resolution of tax audits in the second quarter. The updated guidance is based on approximately 335 million weighted average diluted shares and an expected income tax rate of approximately 37 percent, which includes the $14.5 million favorable adjustment in the second quarter resulting from a tax audit resolution. Excluding the adjustment, the tax rate would exceed the 2011 rate due principally to the expiration of federal jobs related tax credits for employees hired after December 31, 2011 as well as certain federal jobs credits that only applied to 2011.The Company plans to open approximately 625 new stores, including 479 stores opened through the third quarter. The Company has remodeled or relocated a total of approximately 591 stores through the third quarter, completing its 2012 remodel and relocation program. Capital expenditures are expected to be in the range of $600 million to $650 million for the full year.