COUNTER PUNCH

RISE ABOVE ADVERSITY: After a $6.2 million gain from a settlement after a March 1996 fire at its distribution center a year ago, Mac Frugal’s Bargains Closeouts’ fourth-quarter earnings increased 31.5 percent to $31.5 million, or $1.21 a share, from $23.9 million, or 93 cents a year ago.
Sales for the three months ended Feb. 2 were up 11.7 percent to $281.1 million.
Philip L. Carter, president and chief executive, said despite the destruction of the New Orleans center and the resulting disruption in merchandise flow, the company had increases in sales and gross margins. These gains, with a reduction of operating expenses as a percent of sales, produced the earnings gain, Carter said.
For the year, earnings surged to $43.1 million, or $1.67 a share, after the gain, from $14.6 million, or 56 cents. Sales increased 9.6 percent to $772.6 million.
Mac Frugal’s, based in Dominguez, Calif., operates 320 stores in 18 states under the names Pic ‘N’ Save and Mac Frugal’s Bargain Closeouts.
There was a vp of investor relations several years ago; he retired shortly after farah’s arrival in ’95. Open since ’95. Roy Garofalo. We did not comment on the Dow Jones issue and I think we keep it that.

FREDDY’S BACK: Fred Meyer Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings jumped 46.7 percent to $27.6 million, or $1.03 a share.
A year ago, the chain earned $18.8 million, or 67 cents a share.
Sales for the period ended Feb. 1 rose 3.3 percent to $999.9 million from $963.6 million. Non-food sales rose to 62.6 percent of total sales, from 61.5 percent a year ago. Same-store sales in non-foods were up 2.5 percent.
For the full year, earnings surged to $58.5 million, or $2.09, from $30.3 million, or $1.07.
Sales were up 8.8 percent to $3.7 billion from $3.4 billion. Non-food sales came to 58.9 percent of total sales. Non-food same-store sales rose 3.1 percent.
Fred Meyer operates 109 large stores selling general merchandise, food, apparel jewelry and home-improvement products and 104 mall-based jewelry stores, as well as a few small specialty units.

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