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On Thursday, Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.
Apparel and Home
John Heinbockel – Guggenheim: I guess a couple of things may be for Mike. Where do you think we are with progressing apparel and home to where you would like it to be, because quite frankly apparel looks pretty good in the stores in terms of fashion content and presentation, but the sales are still lagging a little bit? Where are you and why do you think you are not seeing a customer response yet, is it solely the macro, or something you are doing?
Michael K. Bloom – President and COO: So, I guess a couple of things. Let me maybe talk about discretionary in general, and you how important discretionary is for our business, you know we think about it in two separate sort of categories, home and apparel. And as you heard me mention, home was delayed for the right reason to make sure our stores could execute the consumable expansion, and with the new program coming out in July which we’ll start seeing it completed by the August timeframe, we’re actually excited about the changes we’re making in the home segment. In apparel, we had a great quarter in apparel, it was the best in last five quarters, happy with the mix. As you know, we’ve managed the markdowns there with reduced receipts, and you heard Howard mention, we hired a new Vice President of Apparel and that’s under Paul White’s leadership, and you know his apparel background. I’m actually excited about where we’re going with apparel and I feel good about it, I feel good about our mix, and as you mentioned, it looks great in the stores, it looks great in the new fixtures that we consolidated to make room for consumables. It actually shows the product better, it’s a relevant mix. So, I feel good about it. I think we are on the right track.
John Heinbockel – Guggenheim: Then I guess to transition over to consumable then. When you look at where comps progress over the next two to six quarters, how much of a benefit do you think you’re going to get, getting people in right with tobacco and coolers, and getting them to shop the discretionary part? Do you think that’s – is that going to be a much bigger lift here or the environment we’re in you’re not going to get as much translation to that side of the year, that side of the store?
Howard R. Levine – Chairman and CEO: Again, John, I think if you go back to what I’ve been saying and sort of what’s core to this strategy, it’s about becoming more relevant and driving more trips. It’s early, right, and you heard the number of stores we completed with tobacco and consumables, et cetera, but we’re doing it because we believe there’s going to be that attachment. So it’s a little early. I think we’ll have more information as we as we execute more stores and have more time to allow the customer to understand we’ve got the products. But we feel good about John I mean, again it’s all about driving trips and becoming relevant and I think you’re seeing that in the progression of our comps.
Dan Binder – Jefferies & Co.: I had two questions. Obviously a pretty big competitor out there that’s talking about lot of price investments, just curious if you can give us sort of your bird’s eye view on what you’re seeing in the marketplace as it pertains to products that you compete with them on? Then secondly you said that June was a little bit mix with better results more recently. Are we starting up the quarter here kind of playing catch up to get to the comp range or are we within the range at this point?
Michael K. Bloom – President and COO: First of all let me talk about June, we’ve talked about the June got off to a slow start, primarily based related around the timing of the (first and the third) money. But it’s progressed nicely and we’ve incorporated where we anticipate being in the month of June in our sales guidance and things that as we talked about the consumable initiatives will continue to contribute more significantly as the quarter progresses. So, we feel pretty good about where we are there. In terms of pricing that’s something that is very near and dear to our heart and we spend a lot of time investing in price and understanding how our customer thinks of us. We continue to enjoy a very strong price perception with our customers in terms of pricing with other competitors that’s something that we look at every quarter and more regularly on the key KPIs out there. From what we’re hearing, from what we see, we think we’re very competitive. I would remind you that from some of the bigger box retailers, the shopping trip into a Family Dollar is a little bit different and we do not try to match price on every single item, but overall when we look at the basket we’re extremely competitive and we’ll continue to look to make sure that we maintain that type of competitiveness.
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