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Alco Stores Q4 net earnings soar thanks to extra week, new store initiatives

Abilene, Kan. - Benefitting from an extra week in its fourth quarter and full fiscal year, regional discount chain Alco Stores Inc. made major strides in its net earnings, which grew by 150% to $2.0 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, for the 14 weeks.

But this calendar shift was not enough to spur growth for the company's full fiscal year net earnings, which disappointed with a 23.5% decline to $1.3 million, or $0.36 per diluted share, from the 2012's $1.7 million, or $0.43 per diluted share.

The company blamed, in part, "a difficult economic landscape and lingering weather issues in late fiscal 2013" for these challenged results.

Still, there was other good news in both the quarter and the full fiscal year, thanks to successes from several company-wide initiatives, noted Richard Wilson, president and ceo.

Net sales for the quarter, ended February 3, were up 8.5% to $146.8 million versus $135.3 million in the year-ago period, which was 13 weeks by comparison. And same-store sales, excluding fuel centers, increased 4.2%.

For the 53 weeks, net sales rose 3.5% to $492.6 million, compared to $476.0 million in 52-week 2012. And same-store sales, excluding fuel centers, inched up by 0.3%.

Quarterly net earnings and sales increases were achieved as a result of "expanding product offerings in food and frozen categories, improving merchandise assortments in apparel and sporting goods, implementing buying efficiencies and competitive price opportunities, and delivering better customer service and a clean, easy-to-shop store environment," Wilson explained. "In addition, new stores opened in the past year are performing very well. We are encouraged by the positive impact these actions had on earnings and are equally excited about the potential benefit of price optimization initiatives we are rolling out in fiscal 2014."

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