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Fred's gets lift from hard lines

Memphis - Fred's Inc.'s auto & hardware and the pharmacy segments helped fuel the company's double-digit increase in earnings in the third quarter.

For the period ended Nov. 2 2, net income rose 10.6% to $7.3 million or $0.20 per diluted share.

Fred's total sales rose 2% to $460.5 million, and comparable store sales inched up 1.4% versus a decline of 2.5% in the third quarter last year.

Year-to-date results included a 4.8% drop in net income to $22.0 million or $0.60 per share. Sales rose 2% to $1.44 billion, and comps rose 1.1% against a decrease of 0.8% in the same period last year.

Bruce A. Efird, ceo, said the company's pharmacy department accounted for more than 40% of total company sales during the quarter.

Encouraged by the progress, Fred's is projecting earnings for the full fiscal year to increase between 13% and 20% over 2012, excluding the one-time tax benefit recorded last year.

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