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Drugstorenews.com ranks among top BtoB media sites

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Drugstorenews.com, the online news home for The Drug Store News Group, was ranked among the top five fastest-growing Web sites in terms of new, unique visitors, according to a recent report in Mins b2b, a weekly industry newsletter for publishing and media executives. Between the months of February and March, drugstorenews.com received the fifth highest percentage gain in the number of unique visitors that visited the Web site during that time, up almost 27 percent month over month, Mins b2b reported in its May 26 edition.

In March, drugstorenews.com received 33,827 unique visitors to the site, a sharp increase over the 26,649 unique visitors the site received in February, as tracked by WebTrends. The news is an important win for The Drug Store News Group, which has devoted more and more resources in recent years to growing its online platform and empowering buyers and sellers in the retail pharmacy industry to communicate more directly and with greater immediacy than ever before.

“The Center for Media Research reported recently that 38 percent of corporate-level executives are using their favorite publication’s Web site on a daily basis. They do it because the websites offer more useful information on the topics they’re interested in; it’s easy and fast,” noted Drug Store News Group publisher John Kenlon. “Drugstorenews.com is growing—versus some pretty big sites—because it helps retail executives keep up with their competitors.”

According to webopedia.com, the term unique visitor refers to “a person who visits a Web site more than once within a specified period of time. Software that tracks and counts Web site traffic can distinguish between visitors who only visit the site once and ‘unique visitors’ who return to the site. Different from a site’s hits or page views—which are measured by the number of files that are requested from a site—unique visitors are measured according to their unique IP addresses, which are like online fingerprints, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site.”

Other top finishers, according to the Mins b2b report, included che.com and chemweek.com, which both cover the chemical industry, as well as jlc.com, a web-based resource for professionals in the construction industry, and macforge.net, an online guide for computer programmers looking for open source projects that work on the Mac platform.

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Fred’s Q1 income dips a bit, but sales are up

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s late last week reported net income of $7.3 million, or $0.18 per diluted share, for its first quarter ending May 3, representing a decline of 1.3 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

Fred’s total sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 increased 5 percent to $464.3 million, however. On a comparable store basis, first quarter sales increased 2.1 percent compared with 1.9 percent in the year-earlier period.

“We are pleased with Fred’s sales and earnings performance in the first quarter as well as our progress in implementing a strategic plan to enhance the company’s growth and profitability over the long term,” stated Michael Hayes, Fred’s chief executive officer. “Our focus on the initiatives that comprise this plan has resulted in higher comparable store sales this year versus the year-earlier quarter, despite an arguably more challenging economic environment, and has driven per share earnings to the top end of our forecasted range.”

The net income decline may be explained in part by an increase in income tax expenses. Income tax increased to 37.3 percent of pre-tax income for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 compared with 33.9 percent last year, the company reported. The increase in the tax rate resulted from the expiration of certain jobs tax credits available to the company in the prior year.

During the first quarter, Fred’s opened eight new stores. The company expects to open 18 stores and 15 pharmacies in 2008. Also, Fred’s closed 17 stores and 21 pharmacies in the first quarter. Fred’s plans to close 75 stores and 22 pharmacies during the year.

In the second quarter, the company expects total sales to increase in the range of 1 percent to 3 percent. Comparable store sales are expected to increase in the range of 2 percent to 4 percent. The total sales projections include the effect of closing approximately 70 stores and 22 pharmacies by the end of the second quarter. The financial effect of the store closings in the second quarter is anticipated to negatively affect earnings by approximately $0.07 to $0.10 per share. Accordingly, total earnings per diluted share, including the effects of store closings, are projected to be approximately flat in the second quarter.

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Target expands in-store TV system to offer health-and-wellness information

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Target hopes to promote health and wellness through an expansion of its in-store television system.

The chain has offered its Channel Red service in stores since 2005, when it debuted in the electronics departments. Feedback from customers has been favorable so far. Target began expanding it to pharmacy departments in 100 stores in February.

The service advertises various products, emphasizing those related to health and wellness.

Based in Minneapolis, Target operates 1,613 stores in 47 states.

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