CHESAPEAKE, Va. - November 25, 2008 - Dollar Tree, Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR), the nation's largest discount variety store chain selling everything for $1 or less, reported net earnings per diluted share of $0.47, for the fiscal third quarter ended November 1, 2008, an increase of 23.7% over the prior year. As previously reported, sales for the quarter were $1.11 billion, an 11.6% increase from $997.8 million, for the same period, last year. Comparable store sales increased 6.2% for the quarter.
"Customers continue to respond positively to our increased selection of basic consumable products, great seasonal merchandise and surprising values throughout the store," said President and CEO Bob Sasser. "We will continue to focus on the customer, and serving their needs in a very difficult economic environment."
For the third quarter, gross margin was 34.1%, compared to 34.5% in last year's third quarter. The decrease in rate primarily reflects the impact of a planned shift in product mix and higher diesel fuel costs, slightly offset by improvements in inventory shrink.
Selling, general and administrative expenses, as a percentage of sales, were 27.8% in the third quarter of 2008, compared to 28.4% in the same quarter last year. The rate improvement primarily reflects the company's focus on expense control, reduced advertising expense and favorable leverage from the comparable store sales increase.
Operating margin in this year's third quarter was 6.2%, versus 6.0% for the same period in 2007.
The Company estimates sales for the fourth quarter of 2008 to be in the range of $1.38 billion - $1.42 billion, based on low -to-low-mid single digit positive comparable store sales. Fourth quarter diluted earnings per share are estimated to be in the range of $1.07 to $1.15.
Full year sales are now estimated to be in the range of $4.64 billion - $4.68 billion. Full year diluted earnings per share are expected to be in the range of $2.45 - $2.53.
On Tuesday, November 25, 2008, the Company will host a conference call to discuss its earnings results at 9:00 a.m. EST. The telephone number for the call is 888-277-7046. A recorded version of the call will be available until midnight Tuesday, December 2, and may be accessed by dialing 888-203-1112, and the access code is 3289489. International callers may dial 719-457-0820 and the access code is 3289489. A webcast of the call will be accessible via Dollar Tree's website, www.DollarTree.com/medialist.cfm.
As of November 1, 2008, Dollar Tree operated 3,572 stores in 48 states. During the third quarter, Dollar Tree opened 68 stores, closed 13 stores, and expanded or relocated 36 stores. The Company's retail selling square footage totaled approximately 30.1 million at November 1, 2008, a 6.7% increase compared to a year ago.
A WARNING ABOUT FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS: This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is used in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements address future events, developments or results and typically use words such as believe, anticipate, expect, intend, plan, forecast, or estimate. For example, our forward-looking statements include statements regarding our expectations for fourth -quarter sales and earnings per share, as well as full year sales and earnings per share. For a discussion of the risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could affect our future events, developments or results, you should carefully review the "Risk Factors," "Business," and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" sections in our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed April 1, 2008 and our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed September 10, 2008. In light of these risks and uncertainties, the future events, developments or results described by our forward-looking statements in this document could turn out to be materially and adversely different from those we discuss or imply. We are not obligated to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements contained in this press release to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this report and you should not expect us to do so.
Dollar Tree, Inc., Chesapeake
Timothy J. Reid