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Dollar General to expect strong 2011 financial outlook
Mar '11
Dollar General Corporation reported record sales, operating profit and net income for its fiscal 2010 fourth quarter (13 weeks) and full year (52 weeks) ended January 28, 2011.

"Dollar General had a great year in 2010," said Rick Dreiling, chairman and chief executive officer. "While weather impacted our sales momentum in the second half of the fourth quarter, we effectively balanced our sales, delivering gross margin expansion, expense leverage and excellent financial results.

"Dollar General is a strong company with a tremendous foundation for continued growth," Mr. Dreiling said. "Our track record of executing our key initiatives over the past three years gives me confidence that the Dollar General team can successfully execute our 2011 goals. We are off to a strong start in 2011. Even in a challenging macroeconomic environment, we expect to deliver strong financial performance in 2011, including top-line growth of 11 to 13 percent and same-store sales growth of 3 to 5 percent."

Fiscal Fourth Quarter 2010 Highlights

Fourth quarter net sales increased 9.4 percent to $3.49 billion, including a same-store sales increase of 3.8 percent on top of a 7.4 percent same-store sales increase in the 2009 fourth quarter. Same-store customer traffic and average transaction amounts increased in both the 2010 and 2009 periods.

Operating profit, as a percentage of sales, improved 295 basis points to 11.7 percent in the 2010 fourth quarter. Adjusted operating profit increased 19 percent to $413 million, and as a percentage of sales, improved 95 basis points to 11.8 percent, driven by both the expansion of the Company's gross profit rate and a reduction in selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales.

Fourth quarter gross profit, as a percentage of sales, increased by 23 basis points to 32.4 percent in 2010, another record fourth quarter gross profit rate. Inflationary pressures in the 2010 fourth quarter led to a LIFO charge of $4.6 million compared to a LIFO credit of $2.0 million in the 2009 fourth quarter, or a net $6.6 million (approximately 20 basis points) unfavorable impact on the change in gross profit. The gross profit rate was favorably impacted by lower inventory shrinkage and higher net markups on sales resulting from the Company's category management efforts throughout the year and increased volumes which contributed to the ability to reduce purchase costs from vendors.

Selling, general and administrative expenses were $722 million, or 20.7 percent of sales, in the 2010 fourth quarter, including charges of $4.7 million relating to a secondary offering of the Company's common stock. SG&A expenses in the 2009 fourth quarter were $746 million, or 23.4 percent of sales.

Adjusted SG&A expenses, as a percentage of sales, of 20.6 percent in the 2010 fourth quarter, reflect a decrease of 72 basis points from adjusted SG&A expenses, as a percentage of sales, of 21.3 percent in the 2009 fourth quarter, primarily due to lower incentive compensation than in the 2009 period and decreases in repairs and maintenance expense, severance costs, outside consulting and advertising expense. In addition, other cost reduction and productivity initiatives and the impact of increased sales resulted in certain costs, including store labor, increasing at a rate lower than the 9.4 percent increase in sales.

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