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Q2 Chilly At Family Dollar

For the 14-week period ended March 2, Family Dollar posted net earnings of $140.1 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, versus $136.4, or $1.15 per diluted share, for the year-earlier period. Comparable store sales increased 2.9% in the second quarter versus the period last year.

Earnings came in below Wall Street analyst expectations.

Net sales increased 17.7% to $2.89 billion from the quarter ended February 25, 2012.

As established, the 2013 fiscal second quarter included 14 weeks compared to 13 weeks in the fiscal 2012 period. Family Dollar said the extra week contributed approximately $189 million in sales and 7 cents of earnings per diluted share. Sales were strongest in the consumables category, the retailer said, which advanced by 26.6% during the quarter, driven primarily by strong growth in tobacco, food and health and beauty aids.

In a conference call executives who discussed results said a late income tax season and cool spring weather had impacted sales, which rose less than the company’s expectation. Executives said uncertain economic, fiscal and weather conditions had made Family Dollar customers careful about spending. Although consumables were strong in the quarter, discretionary spending did gain as tax refunds began to flow later in the period, the company noted.

During the quarter, Family Dollar opened 126 new stores, closed 17 and renovated, relocated or expanded 159.