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Publix sees Q3 gains via new store openings, 4.3% comps

Fast-growing retailer plans to open its first Kentucky location in early 2024

New store openings and comparable-store sales gains of 4.3% helped fuel a 16.2% increase in adjusted net income for the third quarter at Publix Super Markets.

On an unadjusted basis, net income more than doubled for the three-month period ending Sept. 30, to $833 million, vs. $394 million in the year-ago quarter. The Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer said that, excluding the impact of net unrealized losses on equity securities, net earnings for the third quarter of 2023 would have been $940 million, vs. $809 million in 2022.

Sales for the quarter were up 7.2%, to $14 billion, vs. $13 billion in the third quarter of 2022. The company attributed the 4.3% comp-store sales gains primarily to the impact of inflation on product costs.

For the nine-month, year-to-date span, adjusted net income was up 10.3%, to about $3 billion, compared with the year-ago period. On an unadjusted basis, net income for the year-to-date period was up 93.4%, to $3.2 billion.

Sales for the first nine months of 2023 rose 8.1%, to $42.4 billion, with comp-store sales up 5.6% vs. year-ago levels.

The company said its gross margins as a percent of sales increased to 26.3% in the third quarter, vs. 25.9% in the year-ago period, which it attributed primarily to a decrease in distribution costs. Through the first three quarters, gross profit as a percent of sales fell to 26.4%, vs. 26.8% in the year-ago, nine-month period. Publix attributed the decrease primarily to the impact of inflation on product costs, which the company said was not passed on to customers, and increased shrink, partially offset by the decrease in distribution costs.

Publix’s stock, which is not publicly traded and is available for sale only to current Publix employees and members of its board of directors, was priced at $15.10 as of Nov. 1, vs. the previous price of $14.75.

“Our associates make a difference in the lives of our customers and communities every day,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “I’m proud of their efforts and commitment.”

Publix ended the third quarter with 1,351 supermarkets across seven Southeastern states. It plans to enter an eighth state, Kentucky, in early 2024. The fast-growing retailer said it opened 33 supermarkets in the year-to-date period, including nine replacement stores, and closed four locations. It also remodeled 79 stores.

In the coming weeks, Publix has store openings planned for Dacula, Ga.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Ooltewah, Tenn.; and Lakeland, Fla., according to its website. It previously announced plans for at least four locations in Kentucky, and broke ground on the first, in Louisville, in June.

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