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Fred’s reports November, YTD sales

BY David Salazar

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s on Thursday released its November sales results, along with its year-to-date sales figures. The results hit the midpoint of the guidance the company provided when discussing its earnings last week, according to CEO Jerry Shore. 
 
For the month, the company saw total sales of $166 million, up 8% from 154.1 million in the same period in 2014. Excluding sales from 2014 sales that came from 47 since-closed stores, the sales increase was 14%. Comparable store sales grew 1.7% — an improvement over the last year’s 2.3% comps decrease. 
 
Shore said that the company’s general merchandise deparments improved, driven by holiday gift sales, and that pharmacy deparment sales were a little lower than expected, partially due to a dip in specialty pharmacy sales during the week of Thanksgiving. Shore expected those sales to shift into the first week of December. 
 
“We are pleased with our team's continued efforts and hard work to implement our strategies and initiatives, which have led to the improvement in comparable store sales over the past several months,” Shore said. “The sales results for November give us added confidence in our operating and merchandising plan for the remainder of the holiday season.”
 
For the year-to-date, the company has had sales of $1.762 billion — an 8% increase over the same period last year, which includes a 1.5% increase in comps (up from a 1% decline last year). Without 47 closed locations’ sales that were included in 2014’s figures, Fred’s total sales increased 13% for the first 10 months of the year. 
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NACDS files legal brief to support pharmacy reminder calls, texts

BY David Salazar

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced this week that it had filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, opposing a Federal Communications Commission order restricting automated and pre-recorded calls and texts to cell phones — including pharmacy reminders aimed at boosting adherence. 
 
“As Americans increasingly rely on mobile technology, it makes sense that reminders to refill their prescription medications be made available on their cell phones to help keep them on track with their medication regimen, as well as receive other information to help them manage their health,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. 
 
In the brief, NACDS noted, “These prescription notifications rapidly and conveniently alert patients to important and time-sensitive information that is critical to the medically appropriate use of their prescribed medications.”
 
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Litigation Center, among others, have filed other briefs regarding the FCC rules. 
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Dollar General sales up 7.3% in Q3, names CFO

BY Marianne Wilson

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — Dollar General missed Wall Street projections for sales in its third quarter, but the chain came out on top again in its earnings. It also named a permanent CFO.

The discount chain on Thursday posted its fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth. It was the third consecutive quarter that Dollar General beat the Street's projection for earnings.

The retailer reported a better-than-expected profit of $253.3 million, or 86 cents a share,  for the quarter ended  October 30,  up from $236.3 million, or 78 cents a share, in the year-ago period.  Excluding special items, per-share earnings were 88 cents a share.

Net sales grew 7.3% to $5.07 billion, less than expected. Same-store sales rose 2.3%.  

Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said the company will continue to implement cost control measures to boost its  bottom line.

"As we plan for 2016, we are adopting a zero-based budgeting process to reinforce our commitment as a low-cost operator," he stated.

The retailer narrowed its full-year earnings forecast, and said it now foresees full-year earnings in the range of $3.88 to $3.93 per share. Its prior outlook was for $3.85 to $3.95 per share.

In other news,  Dollar General named John Garratt as its permanent CFO, effective Dec. 2.  He has served as the chain’s interm CFO since June 2015,  and previously served as its senior VP of finance and strategy.

 Dollar General on Thursday also announced a $1 billion stock buyback, boosting its program to $1.2 billion total.

Dollar General operates 12,396 stores in 43 states as of Oct. 30.

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