Dollar General Corp. said Thursday it had net income of $355 million, or $1.17 a share, in the fourth quarter, up from $322 million, or $1.01 a share, in the year-earlier period. The discount retailer, which lost a bidding battle for rival Family Dollar in January, said sales climbed 9.9% to $4.94 billion. The FactSet consensus was for EPS of $1.17 on sales of $4.95 billion. For 2015, the company is expecting sales to grow 8% to 9%, same-store sales to grow 3% to 3.5% and EPS to range from $3.85 to $3.95, compared with a FactSet consensus of $4.00. "Given our strong return profile for new stores, we plan to accelerate our new store openings to approximately 7 percent square footage growth in 2016," Chief Executive Rick Dreiling said in a statement. Dollar General is planning to open about 730 new stores in 2015. The company also announced that it's board has approved another $1.0 billion of share buybacks, and that it will initiate a quarterly dividend of 22 cents a share in April. Shares fell 0.6% in premarket trade, and are up 2.4% in the last three months, while the S&P 500 has gained 1.9%.
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