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MATTHEWS, NC-The Family Dollar chain of discount stores plans to open 100 to 120 new locations during the fourth quarter as it continues an expansion that is producing higher sales and earnings. Company officials discussed growth plans and the latest financial results during the chain’s quarterly conference call with financial analysts Thursday.

The plans for expanding in the fourth quarter follow a third-quarter expansion in which Family Dollar added 71 locations to its store count during the quarter, the net result of opening 82 new locations and closing 11. As it expands, Family Dollar believes that its customers and those of other retailers need to take into account that shoppers are making fewer trips of late because of high gasoline prices.

“The company believes that customers continue to consolidate shopping trips in response to higher energy costs,” Howard Levine, chairman and CEO, commented during the conference call.

For the third quarter ended May 27, the company’s net income climbed 5.8% to $56.9 million compared with net income of $53.8 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2005. On a per-share basis, the income grew to 37 cents from 32 cents.

Sales increased to $1.57 billion, or 9.9% above sales of approximately $1.43 billion for the third quarter of fiscal 2005, while comparable store sales increased approximately 3.7%. Family Dollar operates more than 6,000 stores in a 44-state area ranging from Idaho to Maine, southeast to Florida, and southwest to Arizona.

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