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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Discount chain Fred's to weigh options after weak holiday sales, (NASDAQ: FRED)

Discount store operator Fred's Inc said it hired advisers to explore strategic options following disappointing sales during the holiday season. Shares of the company, which also said it expects fourth-quarter earnings to be flat to modestly higher, rose 5 percent in thin premarket trading on Thursday."Fred's 2013 fourth quarter promotional strategy, which was centered on Black Friday, did not produce the incremental gains we expected," Chief Executive Officer Bruce Efird said in a statement.Same-store sales rose 1.4 percent in December, compared with the average analysts' estimates of a 1 percent rise.However, the growth was driven mainly by its pharmacies rather than its key general merchandise business, where sales fell short of its expectations, Efird said.

Fred's, Inc. is engaged in the sale of general merchandise through its retail discount stores and full-service pharmacies. Shares of FRED traded higher by 9.8% or $1.74/share to $19.50. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $12.30 and as high as $18.93. On average, 128516 shares of FRED exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 13345.