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Ruddick realizes increased customer visits
04
Feb '11
Ruddick Corporation reported that consolidated sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2011 ended January 2, 2011 increased by 6.2% to $1.11 billion from $1.04 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. The increase in consolidated sales for the quarter was attributable to a 6.2% sales increase at Harris Teeter, the Company's supermarket subsidiary, and a 7.3% sales increase at American & Efird, the Company's sewing thread and technical textiles subsidiary.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2011, consolidated net earnings increased by 60.7% to $38.1 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, from $23.7 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, in the prior year's first fiscal quarter. The increase in net earnings over the prior year was driven by operating profit improvements at both of the Company's operating subsidiaries and a pre-tax gain of $19.5 million ($10.3 million after tax or $0.21 per diluted share) from the sale of the Company's interest in a foreign investment company that was recorded in the first quarter of fiscal 2011.

Harris Teeter's sales increased by 6.2% to $1.03 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2011, from $972.3 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. The increase in sales was attributable to incremental new store sales, an increase in comparable store sales of 2.21% and the shifting of the new years' holiday resulting from the 53-week year in fiscal 2010.

The new years' holiday sales for fiscal 2011 are recognized in the first quarter of fiscal 2011, whereas the holiday sales in fiscal 2010 were recognized in the second quarter; however, comparable store sales are computed with the holiday sales included in both periods. During the first quarter of fiscal 2011, Harris Teeter opened 2 new stores. Since the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2010, Harris Teeter has opened 9 new stores (one of which replaced an existing store) and closed 2 stores, for a net addition of 7 stores. Harris Teeter operated 201 stores as of the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2011.

Operating profit at Harris Teeter in the first quarter of fiscal 2011 increased by 6.2% to $44.9 million (4.35% of sales), from $42.3 million (4.35% of sales) in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. Operating profit was impacted by new store pre-opening costs of $1.9 million (0.18% of sales) and $2.6 million (0.26% of sales) in the first quarter of fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2010, respectively. New store pre-opening costs fluctuate between reporting periods depending on the new store opening schedule.

The increase in Harris Teeter's operating profit for the first quarter of fiscal 2011 from the prior year resulted primarily from Harris Teeter's increased sales and a continued emphasis on operational efficiencies and cost controls. Savings realized through these efforts have been utilized to fund increased promotional activity designed to provide additional value to our customers and offset increased occupancy costs, pension expense and increased debit and credit card fees.

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