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BRENTWOOD, TN-Farm- and ranch-retailer Tractor Supply Co. posted a same-store sales hike of 8.5% year over year during the company’s first quarter. Management attributes the rise to strong demand winter merchandise due to cold weather in January and February.

Net sales rose for the quarter, which ended March 31, came in at $559.8 million, up from $465.5 million during the same period in the prior year. Executives anticipate that net income will come in between $4 million and $5.1 million when they announce the quarter’s full results on April 25.

Executives forecast same-store sales for the coming year to increase between 3% and 4.5%, up from a prior prediction of 3% to 4%. Net earnings are predicted to come in from $2.49 to $2.56 per share, up from the previous forecast of $2.45 to $2.52.

Tractor Supply currently operates 698 stores, mostly in rural areas, in 37 states. Management has said the chain has the potential to expand to 1,300 units nationwide. The company operated 305 stores in 2000.

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