Nash Finch Swings to Q4 Profit

MINNEAPOLIS -- Thanks to a gain from real estate sales and the lack of an impairment charge that pounded last year's quarterly results, Nash Finch Co. swung to a profit in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29.

Posting a profit of $8.5 million, or 62 cents per share, vs. a loss of $26.4 million, or $1.96 per share in the prior year quarter, the company benefited from a $1.7 million gain from a real estate sale while recovering from the impact of a $26.4 million goodwill impairment charge a year ago.

The profit gain helped offset a 3 percent dip in revenue, to $1.07 billion from $1.10 billion in the year-ago period, attributable primarily to the closure of three retail stores and a loss of revenue from the departure of distribution customer South Bend, Ind.-based Martin's Super Markets.

The loss of the 20-store Martin's retail account and the three store closings also took a toll on Nash Finch's fiscal 2007 sales, which rang up $4.5 billion vs. $4.7 billion in fiscal 2006, as well as fourth quarter 2007 sales, which tallied $1.7 billion vs. $1.099 billion in the prior year quarter, good for declines of 2.1 percent and 2.7 percent respectively.

The company said the sales declines, however, were partially offset by stronger sales in the military segment. Excluding the impact of the sales decrease attributable to this customer, total company sales increased 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter and decreased by 0.3 percent for the year.

"Consolidated EBITDA increased 25.4 percent compared to fiscal 2006, confirming our belief that we could make significant strides in restoring the financial vitality of the company during fiscal 2007," said Alec Covington, Nash Finch's president/c.e.o.

In addition, Covington said that excluding the sales decrease attributable to Martin's, "Our fourth quarter sales comparison to the prior year turned positive for both our food distribution segment and the total company."
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