At the end of the 2006 fiscal year in September, Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) reported that, because of a stock option "backdating" lawsuit, it wasn't going to be able to file its annual report on time. It also said a special committee had been formed to look into the options matter.

As a result, it only gave preliminary data again today, which seemed to show sales and profits growing. What's problematic for shareholders is that Family Dollar admits it used the incorrect dates on some stock option grants for several years -- but it can't be sure how much that will cost until the audit is complete. So take the numbers in this Fool by Numbers with a grain of salt, because things are sure to change.

The quarter saw disappointing comparable-store sales that edged up just 0.9% and caused SG&A expenses to rise to 28.8% of revenues, up from the 28.1% recorded last year. That was a bad miss on management's part regarding same-store sales, as it had previously forecast they would come in at the 2% to 4% range. Similarly, management's now ratcheting down expectations for the full year.

When Family Dollar had released its preliminary fourth-quarter numbers, it had said full-year comps should be in the 2% to 4% range, but with the first quarter under its belt, it's suggesting they'll only "modestly improve" over this quarter. It expects the second quarter to come in low as well, somewhere in the 1% to 3% range.

Poor comps also hit Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) earlier this month, when it said the expected Christmas shopping boon apparently was rolling, rolling, rolling its way. Even though gas prices have eased somewhat in recent months, they are still above last year's levels and discounters like Family Dollar, Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR), and Dollar General (NYSE:DG) are feeling the pinch.

But Family Dollar's first-quarter sales numbers were a bit of a surprise, considering how well (operationally at least) the company has been performing lately.

Quarterly Sales Increase

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A bright spot had been Family Dollar's initiative in prepaid cellular phone services, which helped margins improve to 34.5% from the 33.6% recorded in the year-ago period. And although it didn't provide a cash flow statement in its press release, it did give enough information to show that owner's earnings nearly doubled from last year to $69.2 million, even if it was accomplished by spending half as much on capital expenditures.

But you'll have to take management's word for it at this point, because without a formal filing to the SEC and without providing investors with GAAP performance numbers, Family Dollar's performance just might be discounted in the future.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Wal-Mart but does not own any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.