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Regional grocers’ sales grow faster than profits

Publix Super Markets and Weis Markets reported respectable second quarter sales growth, but profits were harder to come by.

Publix, the nation’s fifth largest supermarket chain, said sales for its second quarter increased 6.6% to $7.5 billion, with 1.3% of the gain related to the timing of Easter. Same store sales increased 6.3%. Despite the top line improvement, Publix said profits increased slightly less than 1% to $404.1 million from $400.9 million while earnings per share increased by a penny to 52 cents.

At the mid-point of the year, Publix sales have increased 5.3% to $15.3 billion and same store sales are up 5.1%. Profits have increased 2.9% to $898 million, or $1.15 a share, compared to $872 million, or $1.12 a share.

The company ended the quarter with 1,077 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina.

To the north of Publix’s trade area, Weis Markets said sales at its 163 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia increased 4.5% to $692 million and same store sales advanced 2.9%. Profits during the period ended June 28 declined 47.1% to $12.8 million, or 48 cents a share, from $24.2 million, or 90 cents a share.

"This is a year of planned recalibration for our company and one where we are reinvesting in increased sales and market share to better ensure our long-term growth," said Jonathan Weis, president and CEO of Weis Markets. "We have achieved these sales results despite self-imposed grocery department deflation due to our pricing initiatives. Our investments in these price reductions and other sales building programs have resulted in higher sales per customer and an increased customer count.”

Year to date, Weis’ sales have increased 2.5% to $1.4 billion while comparable store sales increased slightly less than 1%. Profits through the first six months have declined 37.8% to $27.6 million, or $1.02 a share, compared to $44.3 million, or $1.65 a share.

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