MATTHEWS, N.C. (AP) — Family Dollar Stores Inc. said Thursday that its fiscal third-quarter profit rose 12 percent, as more people headed to its discount stores in search of bargains and spent more money on their purchases.
But its results were slightly below Wall Street expectations, and its shares fell almost 4 percent in afternoon trading.
For the quarter ended May 26, the Matthews, N.C.-based company earned $124.5 million, or $1.06 per share, up from $111.1 million, or 91 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.
Sales rose 9.6 percent to $2.36 billion from $2.15 billion.
Analysts, on average, expected higher earnings of $1.07 per share on $2.37 billion in revenue, according to a FactSet poll.
Family Dollar said its sales at stores open at least a year rose 5 percent in an increase in customer traffic and an increase in the average sale value. The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes sales at stores that opened or closed during the year.
The top-selling product categories included seasonal and electronics, along with consumables, the company said.
For the fiscal fourth quarter, Family Dollar said it expects to post a profit of 71 cents and 81 cents per share on sales growth of between 5 percent and 7 percent. Based on the company's year-ago sales of $2.13 billion, the guidance projects sales of $2.24 billion to $2.28 billion.
Analysts polled by FactSet expect a profit of 77 cents per share on $2.36 billion in revenue.
For the full year 2012, Family Dollar projected a profit of between $3.60 and $3.70 per share on sales growth of between 9 percent and 10 percent. Based on its fiscal year 2011 revenue of $8.55 billion, the guidance implies between $9.32 billion and $9.41 billion in revenue.
Analysts expect a profit of $3.67 per share on $9.34 billion in revenue.
Family Dollar shares fell $2.60, or 3.8 percent, to $66.53 in afternoon trading. Its shares have fallen 11 percent from their 52-week high of $74.73 in mid-June.