UPDATE 2-Dollar Tree results beat estimates

Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:08am EST

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Retailer Dollar Tree Inc reported a higher-than-expected third-quarter profit on Thursday, citing brisk sales of Halloween goods before the holiday.

Dollar Tree said some Halloween sales were pushed into the fourth quarter because the holiday fell on a Monday. On top of that, a very early snowstorm blanketed parts of the country where Dollar Tree has stores.

The company's third quarter ended on Oct. 29, two days before the holiday.

The retailer sells goods for $1 or less at Dollar Tree and at a variety of prices at its smaller Deal$ chain.

KEY POINTS

Q3 2011 Estimate* Q3 2010

Revenue $1.60 bln $1.58 bln $1.43 bln

Net income $104.5 mln -- $93.2 mln

EPS $0.87 $0.83 $0.73

Same-store sales 4.8 pct -- 8.7 pct

-- Sales growth came from a mix of basic and discretionary products, and sales of Halloween and fall merchandise was "very good," Chief Executive Officer Bob Sasser said on a conference call.

-- The company sees fiscal-year earnings of $3.94 to $4.01 a share. In August, it had raised that forecast to a range of $3.82 to $3.95 from a prior outlook of $3.69 to $3.85. The analysts' average forecast is $3.95 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

-- Dollar Tree forecast fourth-quarter sales of $1.89 billion to $1.94 billion, based on a low-to-mid single-digit percentage increase at comparable stores. The analysts' average forecast is $1.91 billion.

MARKET REACTION

-- Shares of Dollar Tree were down 0.3 percent at $75.80 in morning trading on Nasdaq.

-- The earnings beat stemmed from better-than-expected same-store sales and square footage growth and a lower-than-expected tax rate and number of shares, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Wayne Hood.

BACKGROUND

-- Days before the report, Deutsche Bank analyst Charles Grom trimmed his same-store sales expectations for the third quarter and raised them slightly for the fourth quarter. He said that roughly 20 percent of the company's stores are located in areas that were hardest hit by the early snowstorm.

* Estimates according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.