Fred's posts Q2 sales increase

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred's reported net income of $1 million or 3 cents per diluted share for the second quarter, inclusive of net costs associated with the closing of 50 stores and one pharmacy during the second quarter, pursuant to the company's previously announced program to close 75 underperforming stores and 22 underperforming pharmacies in 2008. In the year-earlier quarter, Fred's net income totaled $3.1 million or 8 cents per diluted share.

Fred's total sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2008 increased 5 percent to $447.1 million from $424.6 million for the same period last year. Excluding stores closed in 2008, total sales from ongoing stores increased 7 percent over last year. On a comparable-store basis, second quarter sales increased 4.9 percent versus 0.8 percent in the year-earlier period.

In the third quarter, the company expects total sales to be flat with last year, reflecting the closing of the 75 stores and 22 pharmacies in line with the company's planned restructuring program. Comparable-store sales are expected to increase in the range of 1 percent to 3 percent. Earnings per share are forecasted to be in the range of 16 cents to 18 cents for the third quarter, increasing 33 percent to 50 percent over the same period last year.

Looking ahead, the company continues to expect total earnings per diluted share for 2008 to be in the range of 54 cents to 58 cents, including net costs in 2008 related to the announced store closings. Excluding net costs associated with the store restructuring program in 2008, earnings per share in 2008 are expected to be in the range of 72 cents to 76 cents.

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