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Publix turns in strong Q2 performance

New stores, holiday calendar shift provide sales lift

Publix Super Markets saw robust gains at the top and bottom lines for its fiscal 2019 second quarter.

For the quarter ended June 29, sales climbed 6.8% to $9.35 billion from $8.75 billion a year earlier, with same-store sales up 4.8%. Helping to fuel the increased sales were new-supermarket sales and a 1.2% sales lift from the Easter holiday, which in 2019 occurred in the second quarter versus the first quarter last year, according to Publix.

Meanwhile, second-quarter net income rose to $661.1 million, or 92 cents per share, from $616.2 million, or 84 cents per share, a year ago. Publix said earnings results got a boost from net unrealized gains on equity securities.

Excluding the impact of net unrealized gains, net earnings would have totaled $637 million, or 89 cents per share, compared with $571 million, or 78 cents per share, in the 2018 quarter.

As of Aug. 1, Publix’s stock price was $44.10 per share, down from $44.75 in the first quarter. The employee-owned company’s stock isn’t publicly traded and is sold only to Publix associates and board members.

“I’m pleased that our Publix associates delivered good operating results,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “We continue to provide premier service to help offset the challenges in the stock market.”

For the fiscal 2019 first half, Publix’s sales totaled $19.02 billion, up 5.5% from $18.03 billion in the prior-year period. Comparable-store sales grew 3.3% year over year.

Net income for the six months came in at $1.64 billion, or $2.29 per share, compared with nearly $1.3 billion, or $1.77 per share, in the 2018 first half. Backing out the impact of net unrealized gains in both periods, net earnings would have been $1.38 billion, or $1.92 per share, for the 2019 first half versus $1.28 billion, or $1.74 per share, in the year-ago period. Publix added that the adoption of a new accounting standard of operating leases in the 2019 first quarter resulted in the recognition of $2.9 billion of operating lease rights and obligations as assets and liabilities on the balance sheet.

During the first half, Publix opened 13 supermarkets (including four replacement locations), remodeled 78 stores and closed three stores. One of the supermarkets opened in the period replaced a closed location, and the other two closed stores will be replaced on-site later on, Publix reported.

Currently, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix operates 1,222 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. First-half openings included a 28,000-square-foot GreenWise Market on June 27 in Mountain Brook, Ala. So far, three of 11 announced locations for the specialty format have opened. The other two GreenWise outlets are in Tallahassee, Fla., and Mount Pleasant, S.C.

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