Dollar General Corp. said it had net income of $236 million, or 78 cents a share, in its fiscal third quarter, compared with $237 million, or 74 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to 79 cents, just below the FactSet consensus of 80 cents. Sales rose 7.8% to $4.72 billion, also below the FactSet consensus of $4.756 billion. However, "we are seeing a significant step up as we start the holiday season, and we expect to achieve same-store sales growth of approximately 5 percent for the fourth quarter," Chief Executive Rick Dreiling said in a statement. Dollar General is expecting fiscal 2014 earnings to come in the middle of its range of $3.45 to $3.55, he said, while sales are expected to grow 8%, at the low end of its range of 8% to 9%. The company is planning to open 730 new stores in fiscal 2015 and to expand into Maine, Oregon and Rhode Island. Dollar General remains committed to its plan to acquire rival Family Dollar and will update shareholders on its offer ahead of a Family Dollar shareholder meeting scheduled for Dec. 23. Shares were not yet active in premarket trade, but have gained 11% in the year so far, while the S&P 500 is up about 12%.
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