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Dollar Tree Shares Slide on Downgrades

NEW YORK -- Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. was one of the biggest decliners among retail stocks on Friday, as escalating gas prices made investors wary of consumers' discretionary spending on non-consumable goods.

Shares at Chesapeake, Va.-based Dollar Tree fell almost 11 percent and closed at $25.16 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

The discount retailer was downgraded to "Neutral" by two analysts, Robert W. Baird and Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey, who respectively rated the stock at "Outperform" and "Buy," according to Reuters. Merrill Lynch & Co. lowered its earnings expectations for the company, but left its rating at "Neutral." The downgrades came after Dollar Tree lowered sales estimates during a mid-quarter update.

"We believe the size of the shortfall indicates Dollar Tree is not well positioned in the current environment," said Baird analyst J. David Cumberland in a report. "With higher gas prices hurting discretionary spending, sales for discounters have been driven by consumables, who are less of the mix for Dollar Tree relative to peers."
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