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PLANO, TX-Furniture rental chain Rent-A-Center maintained its industry dominance with the addition of 655 stores in the fourth quarter but litigation and refinancing costs caused quarterly losses to mount to $2.3 million, or 3 cents per share.

The 3,406 store chain, which in November completed the acquisition of its competitor Rent Way Inc., said quarterly earnings excluding the litigation and refinancing costs were $35.6 million, or 50 cents per share, reflecting an increase over last year’s earnings of $33.6 million, or 48 cents per share.. The prior year’s quarter excluded restructuring costs, the expenses associated with hurricanes and a credit associated with a state tax adjustment, the company said.

“Our core business is in fine shape,” Mitch Fadel, president and chief operating officer of the Plano, TX- firm told analysts in a conference call, adding that the integration of the 782-store Rent-Way chain was continuing.

The chain’s acquisition of Erie, Pa.-based Rent-Way helped revenue increase 12.5% to $656.1 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2006, the company says. Revenue in the prior year’s quarter was $583.2 million.

For fiscal 2006, revenue increased to $2.43 billion, a $95 million hike from the $2.33 billion earned in the prior 12 months. The 4.1% jump in revenues was primarily driven by the Rent Way acquisition along with a 1.9% increase in same store sales and rise in revenues generated from new and acquired stores. Net earnings for the fiscal year were $103.1 million, including litigation and refinancing expenses, reflecting a decrease of $32.6 million from the $135.7 million in net earnings reported in the prior year.

Company officials said they expect total revenues for the first quarter of 2007 to range between $749 million and $764 million with earnings of between 64 cents and 68 cents per share. Total revenues for 2007 are expected to be between $2.93 billion and $2.95 billion with positive same store sales growth of between 1% and 2%, the company says.

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