NEW STORES PUSH SALES, EARNINGS UP AT MARSH

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets here said last week new store openings and acquisitions helped the company to post sharp sales and earnings gains in the second quarter ended Oct. 13.During the quarter, the company purchased O'Malia Food Markets, which has eight upscale stores in the Indianapolis metro area. O'Malia will operate as a separate division.Also in the quarter, the company opened two

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets here said last week new store openings and acquisitions helped the company to post sharp sales and earnings gains in the second quarter ended Oct. 13.

During the quarter, the company purchased O'Malia Food Markets, which has eight upscale stores in the Indianapolis metro area. O'Malia will operate as a separate division.

Also in the quarter, the company opened two new convenience stores, acquired three convenience stores, converted three Marsh supermarkets to its LoBill Foods format, acquired two supermarkets and closed two stores to consolidate sales into the remaining units.

Net income for the quarter rose 47% to $4.2 million, including gains from the sale late in the quarter of Marsh's convenience-store distribution business to McLane Co., Temple, Texas. Sales for the quarter rose 6% to $508 million. Earnings per share nearly doubled to 48 cents.

Comp-store sales growth was 4.9% for the quarter, compared with comps of 2.7% in the first quarter and 1.2% in the fourth quarter of the previous year.

For the 28-week first half, sales rose 7.7% to $883.4 million, comps gained 4%, net income grew 44% to $8.1 million and earnings per share were $1.02, compared with 68 cents in the previous year's first half.

In a conference call with analysts following the release of the figures, Don Marsh, chairman and chief executive officer, noted that, although Supervalu, Minneapolis, closed 11 of its Cub Foods stores in the region during the quarter, competition had actually increased, with the opening of five supercenters and two supermarkets.