LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets  saw net earnings increase by 14.1% in the fourth quarter despite a comparable-store sales decline of 2.5%, the company reported Monday.
Total sales rose 1% to $6.1 billion, and net income totaled $284.2 million. The quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 26.
In an annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Publix said net earnings for the full year increased to $1.2 billion on a 1.6% sales increase, to $24.3 billion. Comparable-store sales fell by 3.2% during the year.
Publix said deflation, the economic downturn and cannibalization from new stores contributed to the decline in comparable-store sales, while noting that improvements in costs for distribution sparked higher net earnings and improved gross profits (27.7% of sales vs. 26.9% in 2008).
Also Monday, Publix said capital expenditures would be about $555 million in 2010, down from $693.5 million in 2009 and $1.3 billion in 2008. The 2010 spending would finance 34 new stores, including six conversions of acquired Albertsons stores. Publix opened 48 net new stores in 2009 and 67 new stores in 2008.
Publix’s stock, which is not publicly traded, increased its price to $17.35 per share from $16.30 Monday.
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