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Publix Reports Profit Increase Despite Storm-related Losses in 3Q

LAKELAND, Fla. - Publix weathered four major hurricanes that hit its primary operating turf during the third quarter, coming out ahead of last year's profits and sales.

The Lakeland, Fla.-based supermarket chain said earlier this week that sales for the third quarter reached $4.6 billion, a 14.5 percent increase from last year's $4.0 billion. Comparable store sales were up 4.6 percent. The company attributed 4.7 percent of total sales to hurricane-related buying.

Publix's net earnings increased an impressive 36.5 percent to $183.7 million this year.

The company estimated its storm-related losses to be about $63 million. However, officials said, an increase in impulse buying from customers preparing for the storms largely offset those losses.

Earnings per share increased to $1.04 for the third quarter, up from 74 cents per share last year.

"Considering the unprecedented four major hurricanes in six weeks, I'm very pleased with our sales and profit results," Publix c.e.o. Charlie Jenkins Jr. said in a statement.

During the third quarter of 2003, the company closed PublixDirect, its online grocery shopping business, and recorded an expense of about $30 million. The impact of the expense on net earnings was about $18 million.

Based on the most recent appraisal, Publix's stock price remained steady at $58.50 per share. It was at $52.25 in May, but had increased to $58.50 in August.
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