Foot Locker ( FL) said Tuesday that it expects to have $1 billion in international sales this year, partially due to a planned expansion of its European presence to 15 countries by the end of 2004. The company also said that it still expects a first-quarter earnings per share increase of 10% to 20% over the prior year. The company said at the Banc of America Securities consumer conference in New York that it eventually sees itself with 850 or more stores in Europe. In 2004, it expects to place stores in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Ireland, among others. It currently has stores in countries such as Spain, France and the U.K., to name a few. Foot Locker said it will first test stores in the new markets. Shares of the company were lately up 17 cents, or 0.7%, at $25.57. All told, the company currently has 3,600 stores in North America, Europe and Australia, with 3,000 of those in the U.S. The company has 74 stores in Australia and expects to add 10 news ones, while it also expects to add nine new stores in the next two years to its five existing New Zealand locations. Additionally, the company said it will double the size of its distribution center in the Netherlands, which currently can ship 24,000 units to 12 countries. In the end, the bigger distribution center will be able to ship "well over $2 billion" in merchandise, the company said. Foot Locker noted that it is successful in Europe because it lacks a significant pan-European competitor. The company also noted that its existing operations in Italy and France could each hold about 20 to 40 new stores. Foot Locker also has 89 stores in Germany and said the country could hold 10 to 12 new locations. In Portugal, where it has three existing stores, it would like to add two more. The company said it is "looking aggressively" to add stores in Switzerland, and said it expects to eventually have stores in China and other Asian countries. "The international market has a greater growth potential over the long haul," the company said. Regarding acquisitions, the company said it is always looking at new companies to buy, but said it has not found any favorable opportunities lately. "There are a lot of troubled companies out there," Foot Locker said.