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Fred’s Meets Q3 Earnings Expectations With Boost From Pharmacy

For the third quarter ended November 2, Fred’s, Inc. posted net income of $7.3 million, or 20 cents per diluted share, versus $6.6 million, or 18 cents per diluted share, in the year-prior period. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 1.4%, the company reported, with total sales up 2% to $460.5 million as compared to the 2012 period.

Earnings per share met major consensus financial analyst estimates.

In comments on the company’s financial results, Bruce Efird, Fred’s CEO, said, “We are pleased to report an 11% increase in earnings for the third quarter, which reflected the ongoing progress we have seen with our key initiatives for the year. Our Hometown Auto & Hardware department continues to produce strong comparable store sales, and the investments in pharmacy growth have been validated by the 8% increase in its total department sales. Notably, our pharmacy department accounted for more than 40% of total company sales during the quarter. To help build on this momentum, we opened our new specialty pharmacy division, EIRIS Health Services, during the third quarter, which accelerates our entry into the fastest growing area of the pharmacy industry. On the expense side of the ledger, the team successfully attained 30 basis points of leverage.”

In the third quarter, Fred’s opened eight new locations and closed four. It now operates 701 discount general merchandise stores, including 21 franchised Fred’s units, in the southeastern United States.