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Family Dollar’s sales rise in Q1

BY Alaric DeArment

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar stores reported a 12.7% increase in net sales and a 6.6% increase in comps in first quarter 2013, the company said.

The dollar-store chain reported net sales of $2.42 billion, compared with $2.15 billion in first quarter 2012, with an 18.5% increase in sales in tobacco, food and health and beauty aids products. Profit for the quarter was $80.3 million, compared with $80.4 million in first quarter 2012, with earnings per share of 69 cents. During the quarter, the company opened 125 new stores, closed one and renovated, relocated or expanded 169. The company has more than 7,500 stores in 45 states.

"The investments we have made to increase our relevance to the customer are delivering results," Family Dollar chairman and CEO Howard Levine said. "While the near-term economic environment remains difficult to predict, I continue to be excited about the long-term opportunity for our business. We are seeing tangible benefits from our margin-enhancing investments in global sourcing and private brands, and as we work to drive further benefit from the investments we are making to expand profitability, I remain confident that our efforts will deliver stronger results as we progress through fiscal 2013 and beyond."

Analysts were enthusiastic about the chain’s prospects, as Guggenheim Partners analyst John Heinbockel recommended buying the stock, and as Citi analyst Deborah Weinswig called the company’s earnings per share of 69 cents a "surprise following very strong [same-store sales] of 6.6%."

Analysts had mixed opinions of the results. Weinswig had forecasted earnings per share of 77 cents and was surprised by the results as same-store sales had beat her estimates. Meanwhile, Heinbockel said he would continue giving Family Dollar’s stock a "Buy" rating and said guidance still looked optimistic.

"In our view, FDO’s principal mistakes were undertaking too many margin-depressing initiatives at the same time and not accurately anticipating the magnitude of the discretionary weakness," Heinbockel wrote in a report.

 

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Walgreens, Target, Sears, Supervalu, Costco get high marks for gay, lesbian employee policies

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Several retailers got top scores from a gay-rights organization for their efforts to prevent discrimination against and to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

The Human Rights Campaign released its 2013 Corporate Equality Index, which gives companies ratings of up to 100% based on their policies regarding LGBT employees and also released a buyer’s guide for LGBT consumers.

Walgreens, Target, Supervalu and Sears Holdings received 100% ratings; while Costco Wholesale received a 95% rating; Safeway and Kroger received 85%; Rite Aid, CVS and Walmart received 60%; Ahold received 55%; . Meanwhile, Dollar General received 45%; BJ’s Wholesale received 35%; Family Dollar received 30%; and Meijer received 25%. Winn-Dixie received a 15% rating, while A&P, Harris Teeter and Publix received 0% ratings.

In the Buyer’s Guide, Delhaize, Sears, Supervalu, Target and Walgreens got 100% scores, while Costco got a 90% rating. Kroger and Safeway got 85% ratings, while Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid got 60% ratings, and Ahold got a 55% rating. BJ’s and H-E-B got a 35% and 40% rating, respectively, while Meijer and Family Dollar respectively received 25% and 30% ratings. Winn-Dixie and Weis Markets got 15%, while A&P, Harris Teeter and Publix got 0% ratings.

Companies were evaluated based on policies like spousal and partner medical benefits, non-discrimination policies, efforts to recruit LGBT employees, marketing to LGBT consumers and support for LGBT organizations and philanthropic efforts.

The report noted that 83% of employers on the list had an LGBT employee-resource group or diversity panel, compared with 78% in 2008 and 40% in 2002, while 89% offer health insurance for same-sex domestic partners.

 

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Disney sets home release dates for animated adventure ‘Wreck-It Ralph’

BY Jason Owen

NEW YORK — Walt Disney Animation Studios announced the debut of the hit arcade-game-hopping adventure “Wreck-It Ralph." Disney will release an HD digital and HD digital 3D version early on February 12, 2013, a company first. Then on March 5, the company will broaden the release to the four-disc Blu-ray combo pack, two-disc Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, SD digital and On-Demand.

From Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Wreck-It Ralph” takes viewers on a hilarious journey. For decades, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) has played the bad guy in his popular video game. In a bold move, he embarks on an action-packed adventure and sets out to prove to everyone that he is a true hero with a big heart. As he explores exciting new worlds, he teams up with some unlikely new friends including feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman). The film is directed by Emmy®-winner Rich Moore.

Featuring an all-star voice cast including Jack McBrayer as the voice of Fix It Felix, Jr. and Jane Lynch as the voice of Sgt. Calhoun, plus breakthrough bonus features that take viewers even deeper into the world of video games, Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” has something for every player. Over an hour of all-new bonus material is featured on the Digital and Blu-ray Combo Pack, including deleted and alternate scenes, the theatrical short “Paperman,” plus much more.


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