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Fred’s Inc. posts soft but improved results for 4Q, yearend

Memphis, Tenn. – Fred's Inc. ended its fourth quarter and fiscal 2009 not as strongly as it hoped yet with palatable results, the company noted during its earnings call this morning.

For the fourth quarter, ended January 30, net income more than double to $5.7 million or 15 cents per share, from $2.3 million or 6 cents per share in the same quarter last year, including charges totaling $5.5 million for various legal settlements and store closings in 2008.

Sales bumped up 1% to $473.1 million while comps declined 0.9%.

For the full fiscal year, net income increased climbed 42% to $23.5 million or 60 cents per share, inclusive of the charges noted above.

Annual sales fell 1% to $1.79 billion. Comps rose 0.4%.

"Although earnings for 2009 were not as strong as we expected, the year was a transitional one as we took many steps to make Fred's a stronger company and better positioned for 2010 and beyond,” said Bruce Efird, ceo. “We have refined our pilot store with extensive research and validated programs to highlight the key differentiating advantages of shopping at Fred's.”

Looking ahead, the 669-unit regional expects a first quarter sales increase of 1% to 3%. Comps are expcted to be approximately flat. This compares with a comparable store sales increase of 2.8% in the first quarter last year.

Earnings per share are forecasted to be in the range of 15 to 20 cents for the first quarter. Annual earnings per share are projected to be in the range of 68 to 75 cents.

"We continue to anticipate that the consumer will remain cautious in 2010, but have been encouraged by the early feedback and promising indications from our Core 5 Program," Efird continued.

 

 

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