Q1 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 01/06/2012

Operator: Good morning. My name is Trisha, and I'll be the conference facilitator today. I would like to welcome everyone to the Family Dollar Earnings Conference Call.

All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the Company's prepared remarks, there will be a brief question-and-answer period. The question-and-answer queue will not be available until after the Company has concluded their prepared remarks. So, please wait until after the speakers have finished their remarks before attempting to enter the queue.

I would now like to introduce Ms. Kiley Rawlins, Vice President of Investor Relations and Communications. Ms. Rawlins, you may begin your conference.

Kiley F. Rawlins - VP, IR and Communications: Thank you, Trisha. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. For those of you, who have (indiscernible) please note that we have posted accompanying slides on the Investor Relations' page of our website.

Before we begin, you should know that our comments today will include forward-looking statements regarding various operating initiatives, sales and profitability metrics and, and capital expenditures, as well as our expectations for future financial performance. While these statements address plans or events, which we expect will or may occur in the future, a number of factors, as set forth in our SEC filings and press releases, could cause actual results to differ from our expectations.

We refer you to and specifically incorporate the cautionary and risk statements contained in yesterday's press release and in our SEC filings. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which only speak as of today, January 6, 2012. We have no obligation to update or revise our forward-looking statements except as required by law, and you should not expect us to do so.

We'll begin our discussion this morning with a review of the first quarter's results, and then we'll take a few minutes to discuss our plans and outlook for the rest of 2012, following some prepared comments from Ken Smith, Chief Financial Officer and Howard Levine, Chairman and CEO, you will have an opportunity to ask questions. Mike Bloom, President and COO; Dorlisa Flur, Vice Chair, Strategy and CAO; and Jim Kelly, Vice Chair will all join Howard and Ken for the question-and-answer sessions.

Now, I'd like to turn the call over to Ken Smith. Ken?

Kenneth T. Smith - SVP and CFO: Thanks, Kiley. Good morning and Happy New Year everyone. Yesterday, we reported another strong quarter at Family Dollar with earnings per diluted share increasing 17.2% to $0.68. This result was driven by solid sales performance and operating margin expansion.

Total net sales in the first quarter increased 7.6% year-over-year to $2.1 billion. During the quarter, we opened 101 new stores and closed four stores compared to 85 openings and 18 closings in the first quarter of fiscal 2011. Comp store sales in the first quarter increased 4.1% on top of a 6.9% increase last year driven both by increases in the average customer ticket and customer traffic.

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