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PHOENIX-Even pooch-pampering has its limits. PetSmart is cutting its store and PetsHotels expansion this year, executives said at the company’s fourth-quarter conference call.

The company will open 40 to 42 net new stores and 20 PetsHotels this year. Last year, the company opened 112 stores and 45 PetsHotels and closed eight stores. Because they are more capital intensive, remodels have essentially shut down.

“By slowing our store growth in 2009, we believe grater emphasis can be placed on our [existing] store base,” said Robert F. Moran, president and COO.

The company wishes to continue its strong cash position, and will continue to self-finance expansion.

“Not only does that mitigate liquidity risk, but it also is a strategic advantage,” said Chip Molloy, senior vice president and CFO.

And long-term, the prospects for the PetsHotels boarding facilities remain strong, said Philip Francis, chairman and CEO.

“The opportunity is as great as it always was,” Francis said.

Net sales for the 13-week fourth quarter of 2008 increased 2.3% percent to $1.36 billion, compared to the 14-week fourth quarter of 2007. Comparable store sales rose 3%. Net income was $78.4 million, compared with $75.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2007.

The company reported $5 billion in net sales in the 52-week fiscal 2008, up from $4.67 billion for the 53-week fiscal 2007. Comparable store sales rose 3.8%. The company reported net income of $192.7 million, compared with $258.7 million the previous year.

PetSmart operates more than 1,112 pet stores in the United States and Canada and 142 in-store PetSmart PetsHotels cat and dog boarding facilities.

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