Publix capped off its pandemic year by reporting another round of impressive sales and comps that outperformed even the best numbers from other food retailers' reporting earnings this week.
For the three months ended Dec. 26, sales at Publix were $11.2 billion, a 14.8% increase from $9.8 billion in 2019. Same-store sales for the fourth quarter increased 13.4%. The company estimated that its fourth quarter sales increased approximately $850 million or 8.7% due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been about a year since the start of the pandemic, and our associates’ efforts to serve our customers, communities and each other during this difficult time have been amazing,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “Now, by doing our part to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, we are proud to help our communities take the next step to return to normal.”
Publix has been administering thousands of COVID-19 shots a week in its stores since January.
In February, Publix announced it will offer its associates a $125 Publix gift card after they complete full COVID-19 vaccination. To receive the gift card, associates must be currently employed, submit an internal form and proof of vaccination. Although not required, the company is encouraging its associates to get the vaccine. Associates are not required to be vaccinated at a Publix Pharmacy to receive the gift card.
“We’re encouraging our associates to get vaccinated when they become eligible and doses are available,” Jones said.
Net earnings for the quarter were $1 billion, compared to $789.3 million in 2019, an increase of 29.2%. Earnings per share increased to $1.47 per share, up from $1.11 per share in 2019. Excluding the impact of net unrealized gains on equity securities in 2020 and 2019, net earnings for the period would have been $918.5 million, compared to $656.6 million in 2019, an increase of 39.9%. Earnings per share would have been $1.32 per share, compared to 93 cents per share in 2019.
Publix’s sales for fiscal 2020 were $44.9 billion, a 17.7% increase from $38.1 billion in 2019. Same-store sales for the fiscal year increased 16%. The company estimates its sales for the fiscal year increased approximately $4.6 billion or 12.1% due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Net earnings for the fiscal year were $4 billion, compared to $3 billion in 2019, an increase of 32.2%. Earnings per share for the fiscal year increased to $5.67 per share, up from $4.21 per share in 2019. Excluding the impact of net unrealized gains on equity securities in 2020 and 2019, net earnings for the fiscal year would have been $3.7 billion, compared to $2.6 billion in 2019, an increase of 41%. Earnings per share would have been $5.27 per share, compared to $3.67 per share in 2019.
Publix increased its stock price from $57.95 per share to $60.20 per share. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.
Privately owned and operated by its more than 225,000 employees, Lakeland, Florida-based Publix has 1,264 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The grocer opened a new store concept in Tampa in December. The company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.