In a period when most brick-and-mortar retailers have been struggling, Dollar General (NYSE: DG) has generally managed to hold its own.

On Thursday, the discount chain reported that its fourth-quarter earnings increased by 13.7%, largely due to the addition of new stores, while same-store sales rose 1%. For the fiscal year, which ended Feb. 3, the company's sales were up 7% while same-store increased by 0.9%. In addition, Dollar General's earnings per share (EPS) rose 15% in Q4 to $1.49 over the same period a year ago, while EPS for all of fiscal 2016 climbed 12% to $4.43.

"Dollar General is well-positioned to serve our customers with value and convenience given our plans to open approximately 1,000 new stores in 2017," said CEO Todd Vasos in the earnings release.

What is Dollar General doing next?

Opening 1,000 stores in a single year at a time when many retailers are shuttering significant numbers of locations is an aggressive move. But the struggles of those other chains should give its strategy a boost, as those store closures make this an advantageous time for Dollar General to be pursuing real estate deals.

The chain, however, is not simply charging ahead. Vasos laid out some of its plans for smart growth in his earnings release remarks.

"To strengthen our position for the long term, we are making significant investments, primarily in compensation and training for our store managers given the critical role this position plays in our customer experience, as well as strategic initiatives," he said. "While these investments are expected to put pressure on our 2017 earnings, we believe they will strengthen our market share position over time and are positive steps to further support sustainable growth for our shareholders over the long term."

The company forecasts that its fiscal 2017 sales will rise 4% to 6%, while same-store sales growth will range from slightly positive to up 2%. Dollar General also predicts EPS for the full year will come in between $4.25 and $4.50.

Taking careful advantage of its opportunity

Clearly, even in a climate where consumers are going out to shop less often, Dollar General's discount model works. The company is expanding fast, but it's doing so in a cautious manner, and paying attention to maintaining its culture and nurturing its staff. You can see by the company's 2017 forecast that it does not expect an easy road, but it appears to be well-set to navigate the challenges ahead.

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Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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