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SAN DIEGO-Petco Animal Supplies earned $13.2 million for the quarter ended Oct. 29, or 23 cents per share, on net sales that grew 8% to $492 million and a comp-sales increase of 1.5% after a 7% increase in the same quarter last year. Costs related to the hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast and Florida during the quarter reduced net earnings by an estimated penny to 2 cents per diluted share.

The quarterly results compared with net earnings of $21 million, or 36 cents per diluted share, in the third period of last year. Petco opened 25 new stores in the third quarter of fiscal 2005, which increased its store base to 771 locations.

The company also remodeled 20 stores into its Pisces format in the third quarter. Company officials, speaking during Petco’s quarterly conference call with financial analysts, said that Petco expects to complete its 2005 plan to open 90 new stores.

Based on the number of stores that will be closed as new locations are opening, Petco expects to end up with 65 new storesThe company intends to discuss its expectations for fiscal 2006 when it reports its results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2005.

Petco operates more than 770 stores in 49 states and the District of Columbia. For Petco and for other retailers “It has been a difficult sales environment for many retailers in recent months,” but trends are stabilizing,” CEO James Myers said in Tuesday’s conference call.

Myers said that over the long term, Petco is well positioned to benefit from the continued expansion of the entire pet category, which includes an increasing percentage of service business like pet grooming.

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