Its Earnings Up 15%, Family Dollar Could Go Further - TheStreet

Its Earnings Up 15%, Family Dollar Could Go Further

The discounter says 2004 will see a comparable rise and could be higher with an improved economy.
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Fourth-quarter profits rose 15% at

Family Dollar

(FDO)

on strong sales, the company reported on Wednesday.

In its quarter ended Aug. 30, the discount chain earned $47.7 million, or 28 cents a share. That was up from its fiscal fourth quarter last year, when Family Dollar earned $41.9 million, or 24 cents a share.

Sales rose 14% over the same period a year ago, to $1.21 billion.

The results met Wall Street expectations and the company's guidance. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting the company to earn 28 cents a share on $1.21 billion in sales. Family Dollar officials had previously projected that its earnings per share would increase 14% to 16% over the fourth quarter last year.

For the full year, Family Dollar earned $247.5 million, or $1.43 a share, on $4.75 billion in sales. That compared with fiscal 2002, when the discount chain earned $216.9 million, or $1.26 a share, on sales of $4.16 billion.

The company's same-store growth in the fourth quarter accelerated from earlier in the year. For the full year, Family Dollar's same-store sales grew by 3.8%.

Driving the company's same-store revenue increase were sales of goods such as hardware and automotove products. Such sales grew by 5.1% in the fourth quarter. In contrast, sales of softline goods, such as apparel, increased by 2.8% on a same-store basis in the quarter.

On a conference call with investors and analysts, Family Dollar CFO Jim Kelly affirmed the company's previous guidance for 2004. The company expects its earnings per share for the full year to increase 14% to 16%, Kelly said.

That projection assumes that economic conditions don't improve, Kelly said. If the economy improves, Family Dollar's results could outpace those expectations, he said.

While not providing bottom-line guidance for the company's fiscal first quarter, Kelly said the company expects sales in the quarter to increase 4% to 6% on a comparable-store basis.