Family Dollar Posts Strong 4th Quarter
By Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, 3/27/2006 12:00:00 AM
Matthews, N.C. —
Second-quarter profits at Family Dollar Stores Inc. fell by 31.9%, to $54.5 million from $80.1 million last year, clipped by a $45.0 million one-time litigation charge after an Alabama court ruled the retail chain must pay its store managers overtime.
Without that charge, the low-cost retailer did better than Wall Street expected, pushing earnings up by 10.4%, to $0.53 per share from $0.48 last year.
Analysts expected a per-share profit in the range of $0.50 per share, and cheered the good news by driving the retailer's stock sharply higher. In early trading after the news, Family Dollar shares climbed by $1.14 per share, or 4.5% in value, to $26.97.
Sales rose by 9.4%, to $1.7 billion from $1.6 billion, helped largely by continued expansion. Same-store sales improved by 3.2% as consumers responded to unadvertised holiday bargains, and sales of consumable foods climbed higher as the company continued the rollout of refrigerated units and a push on perishables in its stores.
“The initiatives that we launched last year are now providing a solid foundation supporting comparable store sales growth,” said Howard R. Levine, chairman and ceo.
“That, along with better than planned gross margin and expense control, drove above-plan operating results for the second quarter, excluding the legal charge,” he said.
Average gross margin rose slightly, by 10 basis points, or a tenth of a percentage point, to 32.9% of sales from 32% a year ago. Operating costs inched modestly higher, by 30 basis points, or three-tenths of percentage point, to 25.2% of sales from 24.9%.
The retailer said it expects gross margin to contract over the next several quarters as sales of perishables and other lower-margin items increase, driving same-store sales higher. The company also said costs should decline as sales continue to grow, offsetting any margin erosion.
Family Dollar Stores Inc.
|Qtr. 2/25 (x000)||2005||2004||% change|
|a. Second-quarter results include a $45.0 million one-time litigation charge; and interest expense of $758,000, compared with interest income of $1.2 million during the prior-year period.
b. Six-month results include a $45.0 million one-time litigation charge; and interest expense of $2.1 million, compared with interest income of $1.7 million during the prior-year period.
|Oper. income (EBIT)||132,312||125,288||5.6|
|Per share (diluted)||0.35||0.48||-27.1|
|Average gross margin||32.9%||32.8%||—|
|Oper. income (EBIT)||215,224||209,929||2.5|
|Per share (diluted)||0.67||0.80||—|
|Average gross margin||33.2%||33.1%||—|
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