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Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements, as a result of various important factors included in our most recent press release, most recent current report on Form 8-K, quarterly report on Form 10-Q, and Annual Report on Form 10-K, all of which are on file with the SEC. We have no obligation to update our forward-looking statements and you should not expect us to do so.In addition, as we have previously disclosed, in the first quarter of fiscal 2010, we recorded a non-recurring, non-cash charge of $26.3 million or $0.13 per diluted share, relating to a change in retail inventory accounting. Diluted earnings per share in the full year of 2010 were $3.10, including this charge. You are advised that all earnings and margin comparisons in today's remarks from this point forward will exclude that charge unless otherwise noted. At the end of our planned remarks, we will open your call to questions, which we ask that you limit to one question and one follow-up question if necessary. Now, I'd like to turn the call over to Bob Sasser, our CEO. Bob? Bob Sasser Thanks, Tim. Good morning everyone. Welcome to our call. This morning, we announced our sales and earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011. I’m pleased to report that our comparable store sales increased 7.3%; driven primarily by increased traffic, this was our largest fourth quarter comparable sales increase since 1999 and a much smaller company. Total sales increased 12.8% to $1.95 billion. Earnings for the fourth quarter were $1.60 per diluted share. This represents a 24% increase over last year’s $1.29 per share. Operating margin for the fourth quarter 2011 was 15.5%, an increase of 50 basis points over the fourth quarter of last year; and net income rose 15.6% to $187.9 million.
For the full year fiscal 2011, comp store sales increased 6%; that’s on top of a 6.3% comp store sales increase last year. And net sales were $6.63 billion; an increase of 12.7% over fiscal 2010. Earnings for the full year were $4.03 per diluted share, an increase of 24.8% compared with $3.23 per share last year. Notably, operating income increased by $125.8 million. Operating margin was 11.8%, an increase of 70 basis points compared with last year and net income for the year rose 18% to $488.3 million. This was on top of a 29.1% increase in net income prior year.I’m very pleased with these results. They speak to the value and relevance of our merchandize, the power, and flexibility of our model, and the day-by-day execution of our strategy across the entire organization. Our stores were well stocked and merchandised. Our seasonal merchandise assortments exceeded the customers’ expectations for style and value. Seasonal transitions were well executed and we were consistently in stock on basic items that customers need everyday. On top of all of that, weather was favorable throughout the quarter. As a result, customers continued to respond in record numbers. Sales growth in the fourth quarter came from a mix of both basic and discretionary products. The top performing categories included food, snacks and beverage, health and beauty care, housewares and home products, party supplies, and of course, seasonal merchandise. The success of Dollar Tree, as it has always been, is based on our focus on the customer. We aim our efforts at increasing the value of the merchandise for a $1, improving the quality of our shopping environment and providing the infrastructure that supports the business. The Dollar Tree merchandising model is flexible and we use this strategy of ever-changing assortments to our advantage. Our assortments are planned to offer the greatest value to the customer for $1 and to do so at a cost that delivers our required merchandise margin. To the customer, this means, there’s always something new at Dollar Tree. As customers strive to balance their budgets, they can find the high value basics they need, while enjoying the thrill of the hunt on every visit. Seasonal assortment are fresh, colorful and fun, and provide merchandise energy in the stores. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com