Dollar by dollar, two billion dollarsStaff writer ▼ | Friday May 24, 2013 7:15AM ET
Comparable store sales increased 2.1%, on top of a 5.6% increase for the first quarter 2012. Earnings per diluted share for the first quarter were $0.59, an 18.0% increase compared to earnings per diluted share of $0.50 reported for the first quarter 2012.
"I am pleased with the Company's first quarter performance. Sales continued to grow, our earnings per share increased by 18% and we achieved the highest first-quarter operating margin in the Company's history. Our stores are executing at a high level and we are well positioned with great assortments and the best values ever for Memorial Day, Graduation and an exciting summer selling season," said president and CEO Bob Sasser.
Operating margin for the quarter was 11.6%, a 70 basis point improvement from the 10.9% operating margin in the first quarter 2012. Gross margin increased 20 basis points, to 35.2% compared with 35.0% in the first quarter 2012. Selling, general and administrative expenses improved 50 basis points to 23.6% compared with 24.1% in the first quarter last year.
Cash and cash equivalents at quarter-end totaled $383.3 million, compared with $382.3 million at the end of the first quarter 2012. During the first quarter, the Company repurchased 1.5 million shares for $68.4 million, and ended the quarter with $791.3 million remaining on its share repurchase authorization.
The Company continues to expand. During the first quarter, Dollar Tree opened 94 stores, closed 2 stores, and expanded or relocated 16 stores. Retail selling square footage increased 7.0% compared to a year ago, to 41.2 million square feet. ■