Sector Snap: Dollar stores mixed

Dollar store cos. post mixed results after Dollar General's release of weak sales results

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of dollar store companies posted mixed results Monday after Dollar General reported a stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, but its revenue fell short of analysts' predictions and it issued lackluster revenue guidance for the current year.

While Dollar General Corp.'s earnings per share for the quarter ended Feb. 2 beat Wall Street predictions by 7 cents, its revenue edged up just 1 percent to $4.21 billion. Analysts, on average, expected profit of 90 cents per share on $4.26 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

The Goodlettsville, Tenn., company projected 2013 adjusted earnings of $3.15 to $3.30 per share, bracketing Wall Street predictions of $3.27 per share. But it projected a revenue increase of 10 percent to 12 percent, which implies $16.66 billion to $16.98 billion, short of analysts' predictions of $17.66 billion.

Citi Investment Research analyst Deborah Weinswig backed her "Buy" rating and $65 price target for Dollar General, noting that the retailer has a track record of conservative guidance.

Nomura's Aram Rubinson also backed his "Buy" rating, calling the results "decent" amid a "choppy period."

Also on Monday, Wedbush analyst Joan Storms backed her "Neutral" rating and $13 price target for fellow discount store operator Fred's Inc., ahead of its scheduled earnings release Thursday.

Storms said that she remains "cautiously optimistic" about improving trends in 2013, noting that the company's business has appeared better managed in recent months.

Here's how some dollar store companies and discount retailers were trading Monday:

— Dollar General, up 70 cents to $50.77 after jumping as high as $52.91 earlier in the day.

— Family Dollar Stores Inc., down $1.03, or 2 percent, to $60.34.

— Dollar Tree Inc., up 11 cents to $46.95.

— Fred's, up 5 cents to $14.28.

The broader trading indexes declined in afternoon trading, reversing early gains.

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