99 Cents Only Stores said Wednesday its fiscal third-quarter net income rose 31 percent as more cost-conscious shoppers spent money at its discount stores. The results were a penny per share below Wall Street estimates.

After the market closed, the City of Commerce retailer reported net income of $12.5 million (18 cents per share), compared with $9.5 million (14 cents) a year ago. Sales were up 8 percent to $351 million, primarily from its flagship 99 Cents Only locations. Sales at its smaller Bargain Wholesale chain fell about 2 percent.

"Although we are unsure how positively the challenging economy may affect our sales, we do believe 99 Cents Only Stores, similar to other value-focused businesses such as Wal-Mart and McDonald's, is well positioned to benefit from the recessionary economy," Chief Executive Eric Schiffer said in a statement.

Thomson Reuters surveyed analysts and found that on average they expected earnings of 19 cents per share on revenue of $327 million.

The company, which operates about 280 discount stores in California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada, announced on Tuesday that it was reconsidering plans to exit the Texas market as its same-store sales there recently improved more than 8 percent.

99 Cents Only shares closed down 6 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $8.13 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were unchanged in after-hours trading.

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