The company reported net income of $334 million for the third quarter of 2018, up from $253 million in the third quarter of 2017. Diluted earnings per share grew 35.5% to $1.26 for the 13-week period ended November 2. The diluted EPS figure for the third quarter included an estimated $0.05 net negative impact from disaster-related expenses, as well as an estimated $0.05 hurricane-related net negative impact.
“During the third quarter, we delivered strong operating performance and financial results,” Dollar General chief executive officer Todd Vasos said in a statement. “I am particularly proud of our team’s dedication to our mission of Serving Others, which was on display this quarter as employees across our organization rallied to help our communities in need during the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes. Despite the challenges created by these weather events in the quarter, we achieved strong top-line growth and remained focused on expense control. Both consumables and non-consumables categories drove our financial performance this quarter, and we achieved our highest two-year same-store-sales stack in 11 quarters.”
Dollar General’s net sales increase was driven by sales from new stores and the growth in same-store sales, modestly offset by the impact of store closures. The 2.8% same-store sales gain was driven fueled by an increase in the average transaction amount and by positive results in the consumables, seasonal and home categories, partially offset by sales declines in the apparel category. Customer traffic was essentially flat, the company said.
Gross profit as a percentage of net sales was 29.5% in the third quarter of 2018 compared to 29.9% in the third quarter of 2017, a decrease of 39 basis points. The decrease was mainly to an increase in the LIFO provision, a greater proportion of sales coming from the lower-margin consumables category (and a similar shift within the category), as well as to higher markdowns and increased transportation costs. These factors were partially offset by an improved rate of inventory shrink.
On Monday Dollar General’s board declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.29 per share on the company’s common stock, payable on or before January 22 to shareholders of record on January 8.
“As a result of the third quarter hurricanes and other disasters, we will record greater-than-anticipated expenses in the second half of 2018,” said John Garratt, Dollar General’s chief financial officer. “In total, the impact to third quarter EPS was an estimated $0.05 per diluted share and we expect to see an additional estimated $0.04 impact on our fourth quarter diluted EPS. We have adjusted our full-year outlook to reflect the estimated $0.09 impact of these events, ongoing transportation cost pressures and year-to-date results. Despite these challenges, we expect to deliver our 29th consecutive year of same-store-sales growth with strong net sales, EPS and cash flow growth.”