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Winn-Dixie sees earnings surge in 3Q

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. posted a nearly 26% gain in net earnings for its fiscal 2010 third quarter but saw sales decline.

Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. posted a nearly 26% gain in net earnings for its fiscal 2010 third quarter but saw sales decline.

The Southeast supermarket chain said late Monday that net income for the quarter ended March 31 came in at $20.9 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, up from $16.6 million, or 30 cents per diluted share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial gave an average estimate of 25 cents per share for Winn-Dixie’s third-quarter 2010 earnings, with forecasts ranging from a low of 30 cents to a high of 38 cents.

Winn-Dixie reported that adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the third quarter totaled $50 million, compared with $57.5 million in the prior-year period.

Net sales in the 2010 third quarter, meanwhile, fell 2.3% to $1.69 billion from $1.73 billion a year ago. Identical-store sales, which exclude stores that opened or closed during the quarter, decreased 2.2% year over year.

The food and drug retailer noted that its 51 offensive remodel stores, which are still within their first year of operation, had a 6.3% weighted average sales increase versus a year ago, excluding the grand reopening phase. Identical-store sales in both remodeled and non-remodeled stores were impacted negatively in the third quarter by the challenging economic environment and the continued mix shift from branded pharmaceutical to generic products, the company said.

"We are pleased that our results were in line with our expectations, as we continue to navigate through this challenging economic environment," Winn-Dixie chairman and chief executive officer Peter Lynch said in a statement. "Although the pace of the economic recovery remains uncertain, we will continue to focus on balancing sales and gross margin with unique merchandising and marketing programs that are tailored to meet the shopping needs of our customers.

"By effectively managing our promotional activity, and exercising discipline with respect to our overall expenses and capital spending," Lynch added, "we remain on track to meet our financial guidance for the year."

Winn-Dixie’s sales for the 40-week fiscal year-to-date period were $5.5 billion, down about 2.6% from %5.65 billion a year earlier. Identical-store sales decreased 2.3%.

Net income for the 40 weeks was $14.9 million, or 27 cents per diluted share, down from $30.4 million, or 56 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Winn-Dixie noted that the decrease stems mainly from a nonrecurring gain on an insurance settlement of $22.4 million in the fiscal 2009 second quarter.

Adjusted EBITDA for the year to date came in at $103.3 million, compared with $120 million in the prior-year period. Adjusted EBITDA for the 40 weeks of fiscal 2009 included a benefit of about $4.4 million due to storm-related sales, according to the company.

Winn-Dixie said it continues to expect the challenging economic environment to affect its business for the rest of the fiscal year and, as a result, the company forecasts adjusted EBITDA for fiscal 2010 to be at the low end of its previously issued guidance range of $140 million to $160 million.

Currently, Winn-Dixie operates 515 supermarkets, including more than 400 in-store pharmacies, in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. 


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