Fred's net income increases 16%

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred's net income increased 16% to $9.5 million, or 24 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $8.2 million, or 21 cents per diluted share in the year-earlier period.

The retailer said that total sales rose 3% to $484.4 million from $471.6 million for the same period last year. For comps, Fred's reported a 1% rise on top of a 2.2% increase for the first quarter last year.

Fred's gross profit for first quarter 2011 increased 1% to $137.9 million from $136.9 million in the prior-year period.

During the first quarter, Fred's opened one new store and four pharmacy express locations and closed seven underperforming stores and one pharmacy express location as part of its 2011 operating plan. Additionally, one franchise also was closed during the quarter. The company also remodeled and refreshed 56 stores with its new Core 5 elements in the quarter, bringing the total stores upgraded to 264 during 2010 and 2011.

Looking ahead, Fred's expects its earnings per share to increase between 8% and 23% for the second quarter to a range of 14 cents to 16 cents.

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