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Dollar Tree punts on Family Dollar bidding war

Dollar Tree To Acquire Family Dollar Stores For $8.5 BillionDollar Tree To Acquire Family Dollar Stores For $8.5 Billion
A Dollar Tree store is seen in Miami, Fla.Photograph by Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Dollar Tree on Thursday didn’t escalate its bid for Family Dollar after rival Dollar General swooped in with a higher offer–a move that makes sense now that Family Dollar has officially rejected the latter offer.

At first it seemed puzzling that Dollar Tree issued a quarterly earnings report on Thursday and made almost no real mention of the proposed Family Dollar acquisition. The company only said it booked about $7.5 million in acquisition-related costs tied to the proposed merger.

But shortly after the results were released, Family Dollar issued a separate statement in which it announced it rejected Dollar General’s bid. It cited concerns about antitrust issues if it were to combine with Dollar General. A representative for Dollar General wasn’t immediately available to comment on the latest Family Dollar announcement.

Dollar Tree (DLTR) is in the midst of a bidding war for rival Family Dollar Stores (FDO)–last month it offered $8.5 billion to acquire the company. Larger rival Dollar General (DG) later swooped in and offered to pay $9.7 billion to buy Family Dollar. If either merger were to occur, it would join two of the largest discount-focused retail chains and create a larger rival to battle Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and others that are fighting for the disposable income of those that have the least to spend on food and other consumer products.

The difference between the offers is this: Family Dollar agreed to be acquired by Dollar Tree, while Dollar General is offering an all-cash bid that it says is “substantially superior” to Dollar Tree’s cash-and-stock offer. Observers have also noted that Family Dollar management would likely lose their jobs if the Dollar General deal were successful.

All three of the major discount retail companies have reported consistent sales growth in the years since the Great Recession, bolstered by growth at existing stores as well as the addition of new stores. But same-store sales growth in their latest fiscal years was the lowest those chains have reported the past five years. Their target customers have been stung by cuts to Food Stamp programs, as well as higher payroll taxes and higher wages.

Operationally, Dollar Tree on Thursday reported consolidated net sales jumped 9.5% to $2.03 billion for the quarter ended Aug 2., with same-store sales rising 4.5%. Net income on an adjusted basis totaled 61 cents a share, up from 56 cents a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had projected a profit of 64 cents a share on $2.01 billion in revenue.

Chief Executive Bob Sasser said pet supplies, hardware, household products, and food were among the product categories that performed well during the quarter. Same-store sales grew due to both increased traffic and higher spending from customers that spent money in Dollar Tree’s stores.