Is Dollar General on the Discount Rack?

Shares of Dollar General just fell nearly 3% on news of the retailer's lackluster revenue and in-line earnings. Is now a prime time to buy the stock at a discount, or should investors consider Family Dollar or Dollar Tree?

Mar 16, 2014 at 1:00PM


Source: Wikimedia Commons

After Dollar General (NYSE:DG) reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, shares of the discount retailer fell nearly 3%. Earnings results were in-line with estimates. But the retailer could not meet analysts' revenue expectations, as harsh winter weather stifled its growth.

In response to this news, Foolish investors are probably wondering whether an investment in the discount retailer still makes sense. Surprisingly, the big picture suggests that now may be an interesting time to buy.

Dollar General had nice but mixed results!
For the quarter, Dollar General reported revenue of approximately $4.5 billion, a 6% gain compared to the $4.2 billion reported in the year-ago quarter. But results fell short of the $4.6 billion revenue forecast. According to management, the revenue shortfall was due to poor weather, which pressured the company's comparable-store sales growth to only 1.3%.

Despite seeing lackluster top-line growth, the company was capable of meeting bottom-line estimates. In terms of profits, Dollar General reported earnings per share of $1.01. This is a 4% jump compared to the $0.97 the business reported in the year-ago quarter and was mostly due to a 3% reduction in the number of shares outstanding over the past year.

Dg Revenue

Source: Yahoo! Finance

But is Dollar General the king of discounts?
Although Mr. Market wasn't very receptive to the company's performance this past quarter, Dollar General still posted attractive growth and managed to maintain a reasonable profit increase. This represents an extension of the company's track record over the past few years. But is the company really all that great, or is the success of its dollar-store setup a dime a dozen?

Over the past five years, Dollar General has seen its revenue rise an impressive 48% from $11.8 billion to $17.5 billion. This has been due, in part, to rising comparable-store sales, but it has also been a function of more store locations. During its 2013 fiscal year alone, the business opened 650 stores, bringing its store count to 11,132.

Family Dollar Stores (NYSE:FDO) has seen similar, though less stellar, success. Over the same period, the business enjoyed a 40% jump in revenue from $7.4 billion to $10.4 billion. As a smaller entity, Family Dollar provides investors with attractive upside potential. But the company has yet to demonstrate that it can grow at the pace of its larger rival.

Where Family Dollar has fallen short, Dollar Tree Stores (NASDAQ:DLTR) has delivered. From 2009 through 2013, the company saw its revenue pop up 51% from $5.2 billion to $7.8 billion. While this isn't significantly greater than Dollar General's growth rate, it does show that management has been able to capitalize on its smaller size.

Dg Ni

Source: Yahoo! Finance

In terms of revenue growth, Dollar General sits in the middle of its peers. But when you look at profitability, the company is vastly superior to its rivals. From 2009 through 2013, the company saw its bottom line expand 202% from $339.4 million to $1 billion.

This is far better than the 52% jump in profits reported by Family Dollar, which saw its net income rise from $291.3 million to $443.6 million; and it even surpasses Dollar Tree's 86% jump in net income from $320.5 million to $596.7 million.

Now, in all fairness, there is a big difference between the three businesses that helps to explain Dollar General's standout profit performance. Over the past five years, the company has paid off around 19% of its outstanding debt, which has helped decrease annual interest expenses from $345.6 million to $89 million.

Stripping away interest and accounting for taxes would reveal that the company's net income rose only 96% during this time horizon. While this is still better than the company's peers, it's nowhere near as wide of a difference as was shown previously.

Foolish takeaway
Based on the data provided, it looks as though Dollar General had a rough but respectable quarter. Yes, the company did see its revenue growth slump, and its profit increase was largely driven by share buybacks. But the long-term performance of the business shows that it has been a real winner.

In terms of revenue growth, the company has done average compared to its peers. But the increase in profitability has offset this, even after considering the effects of its large interest payments. Moving forward, it's hard to tell if management can continue to push the company in the direction of success. But Dollar General is the largest and most efficient enterprise among its peers, and it's impossible to argue that the company doesn't deserve a deeper look before discarding.

Is Dollar General No. 1?
In spite of Dollar General's earnings blunder, the company has done great in the past few years. Does this mean the business could be the best stock to own for 2014, or is there a better opportunity out there for the Foolish investor?

There's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Daniel Jones has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers