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Fred's takes sales hits in January, Q4

Memphis, Tenn. - Fred's is blaming its disappointing January and fourth quarter results on the harsh winter weather that forced more than 120 store closings along with an uneven 52- versus 53-week comparison year over year.

Total sales for January fell 22.3% to $134.8 million, with comps down 1.1%.

For the fourth quarter, sales dropped 7.2% to $495.1 million, with same-store sales slipped 0.1% on top of a 2.8% decline in the year-ago quarter.

Full fiscal year sales dipped 0.8% to $1.939 billion, with comps off 1.4%.

Bruce Efird, ceo, said prior to the last week of January, sales were running in the mid-range of the retailer's forecast, with particular strength in pharmacy, pet, auto, and hardware. The late-month storm activity, however, knocked more than 300 basis points off same-store sales.

The lower-than-anticipated sales at the end of January will reduce earnings for the final quarter of 2013 by approximately $0.03 per share.

Fred's now expects to report fourth quarter earnings per diluted share in the range of $0.13 to $0.16 cents versus earnings of $0.15 per diluted share for the comparable 13-week period last year.

"We are also in the process of revamping our fourth quarter marketing, promotion and pricing strategies to respond to changing consumer buying habits, along with the increasing popularity of internet shopping," Efird summed.


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