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Sales climb in third quarter at Publix

Hurricane-related sales helped fuel increase, Southeastern grocer says

Publix Super Markets turned in another strong round of sales gains for its fiscal 2019 third quarter.

The Lakeland, Fla.-based supermarket chain said Friday that sales for the quarter ended Sept. 28 rose 6.3% to $9.3 billion from $8.8 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales grew 6.3%.

In the second quarter, Publix posted increases of 6.8% in sales and 4.8% in comparable-store sales.

Publix attributed the third-quarter sales increase, in part, to impact of Hurricane Dorian. The company estimated that the storm, which affected coastal areas in the Southeast in early September, lifted sales by 0.9%.

At the bottom line, third-quarter net income totaled $574 million, or 81 cents per share, compared with $677.7 million, or 94 cents per share, a year ago. Publix noted that net earnings reflect the impact of net unrealized gains and losses on equity securities. Excluding net unrealized losses in 2019 and net unrealized gains in 2018, net earnings for the 2019 quarter were $580.3 million, or 81 cents per share, versus $582 million, or 80 cents per share, in the 2018 period, according to the retailer.

As of Nov. 1, Publix’s stock price was $47.10 per share, up from $44.10 in the second quarter. The employee-owned company’s shares are sold only to Publix associates and board members and aren’t publicly traded.

“I’m proud of our Publix associates who continue to deliver premier customer service,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “Our good operating results and stock price increase are a result of their hard work and dedication.”

For the year to date, Publix tallied sales of $28.4 billion, up 5.8% from $26.8 billion in the prior-year period. Comp-store sales for the nine months ended Sept. 28 climbed 3.7%.

Net earnings for the year to date were $2.2 billion, or $3.10 per share, compared with $2 billion, or $2.71 per share, a year ago. Backing out the impact of net unrealized gains on equity securities in both periods, net income was $2 billion, or $2.74 per share, for the year to date in 2019 versus $1.9 billion, or $2.55 per share, in the 2018 period.

Publix added that it adopted a new accounting standard in the 2019 first quarter that required the company to recognize $2.9 billion of operating lease rights and obligations as assets and liabilities on its balance sheet.

Currently, Publix operates 1,231 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, compared with 1,207 stores a year ago.

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