Fresh Market Comps Up 5.5%

GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Fresh Market [2] here said profits and sales were both up in double digits in the fiscal third quarter, buoyed in part by a 5.5% increase in comparable-store sales.

The company, which operates a far-flung network of small, upscale stores focused on perishables and specialty product, on Wednesday posted net income of $9.2 million for the 13-week quarter, which ended Oct. 30, reflecting a 21% increase vs. pro forma results from a year ago. Sales were up 11.7%, to $263.3 million.

The company's earnings missed analysts' estimated by about a penny per share, and the company said it had margin pressure from increased commodity costs and higher costs in the most recent period for unopened stores. Gross margins were down 60 basis points to 32% of sales.

Year-to-date net income was up 23.8%, to $33.1 million, on sales of $787.3 million, also an 11.7% increase over a year ago. Comps were up 4.7% for the 39-week span.