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Consolidated Stores


posted higher fourth-quarter earnings that were better than analysts' expectations, amid a 3.5% rise in same-store sales for the quarter.

The Wilmington, Del.-based retailer specializing in close-out merchandise said operating earnings for the fourth quarter were $68.2 million, or 61 cents a share, up from $63.8 million, or 57 cents a share, in the same period last year. According to

First Call/Thomson Financial

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, 10 analysts expected fourth-quarter earnings of 59 cents a share.

Quarterly sales for the 14-week period ending Feb. 3 were $1.11 billion, up from $973.9 million for the comparable 13-week period last year. Consolidated recently announced that its same-store sales rose 3.7% in January.

Shares of the company traded up 8.1% to finish at $14.54 on the

New York Stock Exchange