Fred's, Inc. (NASDAQ:FRED) today reported sales for the four-week fiscal month, second quarter and six-month period ended July 28, 2012. Fred's total sales for the month increased 5% to $136.7 million from $129.7 million in July 2011. Comparable store sales for the month increased 1.2% versus a decrease of 0.5% in the same period last year. Fred's total sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 increased 4% to $470.7 million compared with $452.7 million for the same period last year. On a comparable store basis, second quarter sales decreased 1.0% compared with a decline of 0.4% in the same period last year. Fred's total sales for the first six months of fiscal 2012 also increased 4% to $971.2 million compared with $937.1 million for the same period last year. On a comparable store basis, year-to-date sales decreased 0.5% versus an increase of 0.4% in the same period last year. Commenting on the announcement, Bruce A. Efird, Chief Executive Officer, said, "We were pleased to see our comparable store sales bounce back in July to finish the quarter on a stronger note. The increase for the month primarily reflected promotions aimed at driving customer traffic, which worked well for us and resulted in a significant improvement from recent months. Our Core 5 areas of Pet, Household Supplies and Pharmacy were standouts in July, with pharmacy benefiting from continued growth in script counts during the month. Also, the sales performance of our newer stores and pharmacies continued to exceed expectations, extending a trend we have seen throughout this year." Efird noted that second quarter earnings will be affected by the ongoing shift in sales mix toward consumables, along with added costs associated with July sales promotions and one-time store closing costs during the quarter. Offsetting these pressures, the Company completed negotiations with the State of Tennessee for the settlement of a tax matter, which will benefit second quarter earnings. As a result of these factors, Fred's now expects that earnings per diluted share for the second quarter of 2012 will be in the range of $0.17 to $0.19. Fred's plans to report second quarter results on August 23, 2012.
"Despite the continuation of tough economic conditions, we are confident that our initiatives for 2012 will result in improved customer traffic and general merchandise sales in the second half of the year," Efird added. "Additionally, we expect that pharmacy department script counts will continue to grow and benefit from the ongoing shift of brand drugs to generics."Through the first half of the year, the Company opened 12 new locations, consisting of six new stores and six new Xpress pharmacies. Fred's also closed 14 locations during this period. Fred's, Inc. operates 698 discount general merchandise stores, including 21 franchised Fred's stores, in the southeastern United States. For more information about the Company, visit Fred's Website at www.fredsinc.com. Comments in this news release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, general economic trends, changes in consumer demand or purchase patterns, delays or interruptions in the flow of merchandise between the Company's distribution centers and its stores or between the Company's suppliers and same, a disruption in the Company's data processing services, costs and delays in acquiring or developing new store sites, and other contingencies discussed in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Fred's undertakes no obligation to release revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unforeseen events, except as required to be reported under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.