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Q4 Sales Up, Profits Down at Stater Bros.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Stater Bros. Holdings here posted increases in sales and earnings for the recent fiscal year, although fourth-quarter profits fell.

Sales for the 14-week fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 30, totaled $1 billion, an increase of 8.8% from the 13-week fourth quarter in 2011. Adjusted for the extra week, sales increased 1.6%. Like-store sales for the period also increased by 1.6%, Stater said. Quarterly net earnings of $5 million decreased by 10.7%.

For the 53-week fiscal year, sales increased 4.9% to $3.9 billion vs. the 52-week 2011 fiscal year. Net income increased 43.4% to $37.7 million. Like-store sales increased 3% for the year.

Read more: Stater Might Have Interest in 6-8 Albertsons

“We were able to grow our sales due to favorable customer responses to our use of promotional dollars and by holding prices, to the extent possible, against inflation,” the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said selling, general and administrative expenses in 2012 were flat as a percent of sales — 22.79% — compared with 2011. Operating profit as a percent of sales increased slightly, to 2.85 %, vs. 2.73% in the preceding year.

Capital expenditures for the fiscal year totaled $40.3 million, which included the remodel of previously purchased former Albertsons stores that were reopened as replacement Stater Bros.’ stores during the year. Stater Bros. projected capital expenditures of $55.2 million for fiscal 2013.

“Our success in the current year is due to our valued customers responding favorably to our marketing efforts, which have emphasized quality and value and have attracted new customers in fiscal 2012,” Jack Brown, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Our results reflect the benefit of our debt refinancing last year which has significantly reduced our interest expense. The reduction in interest expense is just one measure that we've taken to reduce cost, which has allowed us to keep prices low to our customers. During these tough economic times, low prices and value are even more important as our customers continue to face challenges to their home budgets.”

The company is the holding company for Stater Bros. Markets, which operates 167 supermarkets in Southern California.

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