MATTHEWS, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- Family Dollar Stores ( FDO) said net income in its fiscal third quarter rose 19% as customer traffic increased. Family Dollar said earnings were $104.4 million, or 77 cents a share, up from $87.7 million, or 62 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Family Dollar to earn 76 cents in the third quarter. Third-quarter sales rose 8.4% to almost $2 billion. Comparable-store sales increased 7%. Family Dollar said the increase in same-store sales was a result of increased customer traffic, measured by the number of register transactions. Average transaction value for the quarter was flat. Sales were strongest in the company's seasonal, electronics and consumables categories. Gross profit margin in the third quarter was 36.6% vs. 36.2% a year earlier. Family Dollar said it expects fourth-quarter comparable-store sales will rise 5% to 7% with earnings of between 46 cents and 51 cents a share, up from 43 cents in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. For the full year, Family Dollar expects earnings of between $2.53 and $2.58 a share compared with $2.07 in fiscal 2009. "As we look to the fourth quarter, we expect that many of the trends we saw in the third quarter will continue. However, the environment remains challenging for consumers, and customers continue to buy close to need," said Family Dollar Chairman and CEO Howard Levine. "The fourth quarter is off to a good start, with sales in comparable stores increasing an estimated 5.5% in June." -- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York. Get more stock ideas and investing advice on our sister site, Stockpickr.com.