Comparable store sales rose 5.1% in the quarter. The company notes that it received a 1.2% sales increase because the Easter holiday fell in the first quarter last year. The Easter sales bump occurred during the second quarter last year.
Publix said that its net earnings for the first quarter totaled $680.3 million, an increase of 22.5% over the $555.3 million posted in the prior year period. Earnings per share for the first quarter increased to $0.93 for 2018, up from $0.73 per share in the first quarter of 2017.
Net earnings and earnings per share for the quarter of 2018 received a boost from the lower corporate tax rate that resulted from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the company said. Net earnings and earnings per share also were impacted by a new accounting standard requiring equity securities be measured at fair value with net unrealized gains and losses from changes in the fair value recognized in earnings. Excluding the impact of the new accounting standard, net earnings would have been $704.2 million, an increase of 26.8%, and earnings per share would have been $0.96 for the first quarter of 2018.
Publix also announced that its stock price increased from $41.40 per share to $41.75 per share, effective May 1. Publix stock is not publicly traded and can be purchased only by the company’s employees and the members of its board of directors.
“I’m proud of our team’s results and pleased with our stock price increase considering the volatility in the stock market,” Publix CEO and president Todd Jones said in a statement.