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Fred's fat numbers

MEMPHIS, Tenn.— Fred's today reported record sales for the fourth quarter and the full fiscal year ended Jan. 31, and the company said it expects more of the same in the new fiscal year.

For the quarter, sales jumped 17 percent and comps rose 5.1 percent, on top of a 7.0 percent gain during last year's 4Q. For the fiscal year, sales climbed 18 percent to $1.303 billion. Comps increased 5.7% on top of an 11.2% increase in the previous fiscal year.

For fiscal 2004, Fred's expects to sales in the range of $1.495 billion to $1.520 billion, up 15 percent to 17 percent. Comps are expected to rise 4 percent to 7 percent. The company anticipates that earnings per share in the range of $1.03 to $1.10 for fiscal 2004, representing an increase of 17% to 26% over expected earnings for fiscal 2003.

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