Publix Q4 Sales Edge Up, But Earnings Fall

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Publix Q4 Sales Edge Up, But Earnings Fall

03/01/2019
Publix Q4 Sales Edge Up, But Earnings Fall
Publix's earnings were adversely affected by a new accounting standard, according to CEO Todd Jones

Sales at Publix Super Markets for the three months ended Dec. 29, 2018, were $9.3 billion, a 3.8 percent increase from the $8.9 billion logged in 2017, while comparable-store sales for the three months ended Dec. 29, 2018, edged up 1.1 percent.

The grocer’s net earnings for the three months ended Dec. 29, 2018, came to $407 million, versus $766.6 million in 2017, a 46.9 percent decline, and its earnings per share for the three months ended Dec. 29, 2018, fell to 57 cents per share, from $1.04 in 2017. According to Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix, earnings were negatively affected by the 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.

Earnings for the three-month period were positively affected, however, by the decrease in the federal statutory income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent effective in 2018 due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and the one-time remeasurement of deferred income taxes related to the legislation.

Excluding these factors, net earnings for the three months ended Dec. 29, 2018 would have been $660.3 million, compared with $542.4 million in 2017, a 21.7 percent increase, and earnings per share for the period would have been 92 cents per share, versus 74 cents per share in 2017.

“Our fourth-quarter results were impacted by an accounting rule change in 2018 and a one-time adjustment due to the Tax Act in 2017. Excluding these items, our net earnings were strong in the fourth quarter,” affirmed Todd Jones, CEO of Publix, which is No. 5 on Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States. “Our associates continue to provide legendary service to our customers.” 

Publix’s sales for the fiscal year ended Dec. 29, 2018, were $36.1 billion, a 4.4 percent increase from $34.6 billion in 2017. Comps for the fiscal year rose 2.1 percent.

The company’s net earnings for the fiscal year were $2.4 billion, compared with $2.3 billion in 2017, a 3.9 percent increase. Earnings per share for the fiscal year increased to $3.28 per share, up from $3.04 in 2017. Net earnings and earnings per share for the fiscal year were also negatively affected by the new accounting standard, and partly offset by the Tax Act.

Excluding these factors, net earnings for the fiscal year would have been $2.5 billion, versus $2.1 billion in 2017, a 21.8 percent rise, and earnings per share would have been $3.47 per share, compared with $2.74 in 2017.

As of March 1, Publix’s stock price increased from $42.70 per share to $42.85 per share. The company’s stock isn’t publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current associates and members of its board of directors.