Tractor Supply

(TSCO) - Get Report

posted a 16.6% year-over-year sales increase in the third quarter and confirmed its outlook for fiscal 2006.

The farm and ranch retail chain posted net income of $18.1 million, or 44 cents a share, which includes $2.4 million, or 4 cents a share, in stock compensation expense. The results fall short of the Thomson First Call analyst estimate of 47 cents and of the $18.3 million, or 45 cents a share, the company posted in the prior-year period.

Net sales were $559.2 million, up from $479.6 million in the prior-year period and better than the analyst estimate of $553.3 million. Same-store sales increased 2.4%, compared with last year's 1.8% gain. The Brentwood, Tenn., company said same-store sales improvements were strongest in the clothing/footwear and equine/pet/animal categories, but were partially offset by lower-than-expected performance in seasonal power equipment and generators. Gross profit increased 20% to $176.3 million, or 31.5% of sales, compared to 30.6% in the prior year.

"We are pleased with our performance in the third quarter," CEO Jim Wright said. "Though the macro-environment continued to pressure consumers early in the quarter, we were able to effectively respond and deliver improved top line results."

Looking forward, Tractor Supply expects net sales for fiscal 2006 will range between $2.37 billion and $2.39 billion, with a same-store sales increase of roughly 2% to 3%. It expects full-year earnings of $2.29 to $2.30 a share, which includes a 14-cent per-share charge for stock compensation expense.

Shares were down $2.20, or 4.2%, at $51 in recent after-hours trading Wednesday.