DEBT, WARM WEATHER HURT INGLES RESULTS

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Ingles Markets here said that debt repayment, a smaller store base and mild weather led to a decline in sales and earnings for the first quarter, ended Dec. 29.Net income dropped 7.9% to $4.1 million, mostly due to a $400,000 charge related to the early extinguishment of approximately $162.4 million in debt.Sales dropped 1.1% to $500 million from the previous first quarter, and

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Ingles Markets here said that debt repayment, a smaller store base and mild weather led to a decline in sales and earnings for the first quarter, ended Dec. 29.

Net income dropped 7.9% to $4.1 million, mostly due to a $400,000 charge related to the early extinguishment of approximately $162.4 million in debt.

Sales dropped 1.1% to $500 million from the previous first quarter, and comparable-store sales also dropped 1%.

Robert P. Ingle, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Although we had a decline in comparable-store sales this quarter, we are very proud of our track record of comparable-store sales growth, averaging 3.7% over the last eight years.

"In the winter in the South, sales are very sensitive to weather, as sales boom under threat of snowy and icy conditions. The unseasonably warm climate in the quarter definitely impacted our sales.

"Also, economic uncertainty has resulted in more conservative consumer spending.

"The decline is attributable to the above factors, as well as a decrease in store count from 209 stores at the end of the December 2000 quarter to 203 stores at the end of the December 2001 quarter."

The company added that capital expenditures for the first quarter totaled $9.8 million.