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Publix tallies top- and bottom-line gains in first quarter

Easter calendar day shift impacts sales result

Publix Super Markets Inc. has begun its 2019 fiscal year with sales and earnings gains.

For the first quarter ended March 30, Publix recorded sales of $9.7 billion, up 4.3% from $9.3 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales rose 1.9% year over year, the Lakeland, Fla.-based supermarket chain said Wednesday.

A calendar day shift for the 2019 Easter holiday negatively impacted sales results, Publix noted. The company estimated that sales in this year’s first quarter were 1.2% lower because Easter fell in the second quarter whereas in 2018 the holiday was in the first quarter.

On the earnings side, net income came in at $981 million, or $1.37 per share, in the first quarter compared with $680.3 million, or 93 cents per share, a year ago. Publix said the earnings results reflect the impact of net unrealized gains and losses on equity securities.

Excluding net unrealized gains in 2019 and net unrealized losses in 2018, net earnings would have been $741.7 million, or $1.04 per share, in the 2019 first quarter and $704.2 million, or 96 cents per share, in the 2018 quarter, according to Publix.

In addition, Publix noted that the adoption of a new accounting standard in the 2019 first quarter required the company to recognize $2.9 billion of operating lease rights and obligations as assets and liabilities on the balance sheet. The company said these amounts are based on unaudited financial statements that will be filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As of May 1, Publix’s stock price rose to $44.75 per share from $42.85 per share. The employee-owned company’s stock isn’t publicly traded and is sold only to Publix associates and board members.

“I’m proud of our results and pleased with our stock price increase,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement on first-quarter results. “I want to thank our associates for delivering premier customer service that makes shopping at Publix a pleasure.”

Publix currently operates 1,215 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, up from 1,182 stores a year ago.

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