LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets here said sales were up by 6.5% but earnings fell by 1.5% during its third quarter. “Our operating performance was solid in a difficult economic environment,” Charlie Jenkins Jr., Publix’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. Overall sales totaled $5.6 billion, up from $5.2 billion in the same period a year ago. Earnings fell to $249 million from $252.9 million last year; earnings per share were 30 cents in both periods. Comparable-store sales increased by 4.5% in the quarter. Over the year’s first nine months, sales were $17.1 billion, up by 6.4%, and earnings were up 8.4% to $873 million, Publix said.
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