Publix Super Markets posted double-digit gains in net and comparable-store sales for its fiscal 2020 first quarter, citing a late-quarter spurt in business from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix said Friday that sales for the quarter ended March 28, 2020 totaled $11.2 billion, up 16.1% from $9.7 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales for the period jumped 14.4% year over year.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic — which triggered high consumer demand as millions of Americans stocked up on groceries and other supplies — lifted first-quarter sales by about $1 billion, or 10.3%, Publix estimated.
“Never before have we experienced a more challenging time,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “Our associates’ efforts to serve our customers and communities have been nothing short of extraordinary. I want to thank our associates and couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside them.”
At the bottom line, net income for the first quarter came in at $667.3 million, or 94 cents per share, compared with $981 million, or $1.37 per share, a year ago. Publix noted that the decrease reflects net unrealized losses and gains on equity securities.
Excluding the effect of net unrealized losses and gains, net earnings for the 2020 quarter were $956.2 million, or $1.35 per share, versus $741.7 million, or $1.04 per share, in the prior-year period, according to Publix.
As of May 1, Publix’s stock price rose to $50.10 per share from $48.90 on March 1. 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.
Publix closed out its 2019 fiscal year with total sales of $38.1 billion, up 5.6% from 2018. Same-store sales for the fourth quarter and full year rose 3.6%.
Overall, the company operates 1,242 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
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