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Publix reported strong same-store sales growth for both the fourth quarter and full year.

Publix closes out 2019 fiscal year on up note

Southeastern grocery chain sees net gain of 30 stores from 2018

Publix Super Markets turned in solid sales and comparable-store gains for 2019 fourth quarter and fiscal year.

Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix said Monday that sales for the quarter ended Dec. 28 climbed 5.1% to $9.8 billion from $9.3 billion a year earlier. Comp-store sales in the period rose 3.6% year over year.

Publix finished fiscal 2019 with sales of $38.1 billion, a gain of 5.6% from $36.1 billion in 2018. Same-store sales grew by the same percentage as in the final quarter, up 3.6%.

As of March 1, Publix’s stock price rose to $48.90 per share from $47.10. As an employee-owned company, the grocer doesn’t publicly trade its shares, which are available for sale only to current Publix associates and board members.

“I'm delighted we had another increase in our stock price,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “I'm proud of our Publix associates for continuing to make us a leader in our industry and providing legendary customer service.”

At the bottom line, Publix posted increased earnings for the quarter and full year, but results were lower for both periods on an adjusted basis.

In the fourth quarter, net income totaled $789.3 million, or $1.11 per share, compared with $407 million, or 57 cents per share, a year ago. Publix noted that, excluding the impact of net unrealized gains on equity securities in 2019 and net unrealized losses in 2018, net earnings would have dipped to $656.6 million, or 93 cents per share, in the quarter versus $660.3 million, or 92 cents per share, in the 2018 quarter.

For fiscal 2019, Publix tallied net income of nearly $3.01 billion, or $4.21 per share, up from $2.4 billion, or $3.28 per share, in 2018. Backing out net unrealized gains/losses for both periods, the supermarket chain would have ended up with net earnings of $2.6 billion, or $3.67 per share, compared with $2.5 billion, or $3.47 per share, a year earlier.

Publix added that, in the 2019 first quarter, it adopted a new accounting standard that changed the accounting for operating leases, which required the company to recognize $2.9 billion of operating lease rights and obligations as assets and liabilities on its balance sheet.

Overall, Publix currently operates 1,243 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, up from 1,213 a year ago.

This year, the retailer so far has opened Publix supermarkets in Tampa, St. Johns and Brandon, Fla., and Buford, Ga. Publix also is bidding for five leased stores in Florida from Lucky’s Market. Another GreenWise Market location is slated to open this year in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., as well.

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