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Publix earnings soar in fourth quarter

Privately traded stock sees significant increase

Publix Super Markets today announced that its sales for the 13-week 2017 fourth quarter, ended Dec. 30, 2017, were $8.9 billion. That is a 2.1% decrease from the $9.1 billion in sales during the same period the previous year, but the 2016 quarter contained 14 weeks. Excluding the additional week in the 2016 fourth quarter, sales for the fourth quarter of 2017 would have increased 5%. Comparable-store sales in the 2017 fourth quarter increased 3.2%.

Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $766.6 million, a 40.8% increase over the $544.5 million reported in 2016. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter increased to $1.04 for 2017, up from 71 cents per share in 2016.

The Lakeland, Fla.-based company said its net earnings and earnings per share were impacted by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Tax Act). Excluding the impact of the Tax Act, net earnings would have been $542.4 million, a decrease of 0.4%. Net earnings and earnings per share also were impacted by the extra week in 2016’s fourth quarter.

Publix’s sales for the 52-week fiscal year, ended Dec. 30, 2017, were $34.6 billion, a 1.6% increase from 2016’s $34 billion, which was a 53-week year. Excluding the additional week in 2016, sales for 2017 would have increased 3.5%. Comparable-store sales for 2017 increased 1.7%.

Net earnings for 2017 were $2.3 billion, an increase of 13.1% over the $2 billion reported in 2016. Earnings per share increased to $3.04 for the year, up from $2.63 per share in 2016. Excluding the impact of the Tax Act, net earnings would have been $2.1 billion, an increase of 2.1%, and earnings per share would have been $2.74.

Effective March 1, 2018, Publix’s stock price increased from $36.85 per share to $41.40 per share. The company’s stock is not publicly traded and is made available only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

“I’m delighted we had a significant increase in our stock price,” Publix CEO and president Todd Jones said in a statement. “I’m proud of our associate owners for their dedicated service to our customers and communities.”

Publix has been honing its pricing in recent months, with its “Payless at Publix” campaign, where it compares its prices against Walmart. The campaign is tailored to each individual Publix store, and contains a comparison list of 45 commonly purchased items. This week, for example, shoppers at the Publix store in the Village Walk Shopping Center in Alpharetta, Ga., could save $55.37 shopping Publix over Walmart, while customers of its Southgate Village store in Birmingham, Ala., saved $51.07. 

Publix bills itself as “the largest and fastest-growing employee-owned supermarket chain in the United States. We are successful because we are committed to making shopping a pleasure in our stores while striving to be the premier quality food retailer in the world.”

Owned and operated by its 190,000 employees, Publix currently has 1,172 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. 

Correction, March 1, 2018: This story has been updated to fix an error in the fourth-quarter sales figure. The correct figure is $8.9 billion.

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