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Publix's third-quarter net sales growth of 7.8% built on an 18.3% increase in the 2020 quarter.

Publix tallies 6.3% comp-sales growth in third quarter

Southeastern grocer continues adding to 2020 pandemic-driven gains

Last year’s pandemic sales surge didn’t prevent Publix Super Markets from generating gains in its fiscal 2021 third quarter.

For the quarter ended Sept. 25, net sales climbed 7.8% to $11.9 billion from $11.1 billion in the 2020 third quarter, when sales jumped 18.3%, Publix said Monday. The Lakeland, Fla.-based supermarket chain also saw sequential growth, as 2021 second-quarter sales were up 3.9%.

Publix built on earlier comparable-store sales increases as well. Year over year, 2021 third-quarter comp sales rose 6.3%, on top of 16.5% growth a year ago and exceeding the 2.3% gain in the 2021 second quarter.

To date, the grocer’s overall sales are up 5.2% to $35.4 billion from $33.7 billion in the prior-year period. Comp sales for the nine months show a 3.6% uptick. Those results also reflect increases of 3.9% in net sales and 2.4% in same-store sales in the 2021 first quarter.

Publix’s sales for the nine months ended Sept. 25, 2021 were $35.4 billion, a 5.2% increase from $33.7 billion in 2020. Comparable store sales for the nine months ended Sept. 25, 2021 increased 3.6%.

“As the effects of the pandemic and supply chain challenges persist, the efforts of our associates continue to be extraordinary,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more proud of their commitment to serving our customers and communities.”

At the bottom line, third-quarter 2021 net income came in at $856.9 million, or $1.24 per share, down from $917.6 million, or $1.31 per share, a year ago. Excluding the impact of net unrealized gains on equity securities, net earnings would have totaled $802.5 million, or $1.16 per share, versus $836.2 million, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier, according to Publix.

Net income remains on the upside for the year to date, however. Publix reported nine-month net earnings of $3.4 billion, or $4.87 per share, compared with $3 billion, or $4.20 per share, in the 2020 period. Backing out net unrealized gains on equity securities, net would have been $2.6 billion, or $3.81 per share, versus $2.8 billion or $3.94 per share, in the prior-year period, the company said.

Effective Nov. 1, 2021, Publix’s stock price increased from $63.10 per share to $66.40 per share. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

Publix said its stock price rose to $66.40 per share as of Nov. 1 from $63.10 per share on Aug. 1, just before the retailer reported second-quarter results. An employee-owned company, Publix doesn’t publicly trade its shares, which are available for sale only to associates and board members.

Overall, Publix operates 1,284 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, up from 1,253 stores a year ago. The company plans to enter its eighth state, Kentucky, with a Louisville store slated to open in 2023.

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