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Jay McIntosh

Pier 1 earnings up 3% in third quarter

FORT WORTH, Texas — Pier 1 Imports said its earnings rose 3% in its fiscal third quarter as sales jumped 10.9%, aided by a 7.9% same-store gain and the company's first full quarter of online sales.

The Fort Worth-based retailer also boosted the quarterly cash dividend on its stock by 25%, or a penny, to 5 cents per share.

President and CEO Alex Smith said the latest period, ended Nov. 24, was Pier 1's 13th consecutive quarter of growth in same-store sales and earnings per share, which rose to 22 cents compared with 21 cents a year earlier.

"This marks the company's first full quarter of e-commerce sales and we're pleased with the initial results, as the level of both new and existing customer visits indicates the long-term opportunity is significant," Smith said. "Indeed, we saw very strong traffic at both our stores and during the period, and trends have remained robust thus far in the holiday selling season."

Sales in the period were $424.5 million, up from $382.7 million in the comparable quarter a year earlier. Net income was $23.7 million, up from $23 million a year ago.

Excluding the effects of Hurricane Sandy and tax rate changes, earnings would have been $27.1 million or 25 cents per share, the company said. It said operating income in the quarter was up 18%.

In addition to boosting the dividend, Pier 1 also announced its third $100 million share buyback program, which Smith said reflects "our confidence in the underlying strength of the business and the significant potential ahead of us."

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