SuperValu Gains In 2014, Q4

For the fiscal year ended February 28, SuperValu posted net earnings of $192 million, or 73 cents per diluted share, versus $182 million, or 70 cents per diluted share, in the previous 12 months. Net sales were $17.82 billion compared with $17.15 billion in the prior fiscal year.

Operating earnings were $424 million verses $423 million in the year earlier.

In the fourth quarter, SuperValu recorded net earrings of $39 million, or 14 cents per diluted share, versus $26 million, or 10 cents per diluted share, in the period a year ago, the company reported. Net sales were $4.36 billion compared with $3.95 billion in the year-earlier quarter. Fourth quarter results included $30 million in after-tax debt refinancing, benefit plan and store closure costs and charges.

Operating earnings were $139 million versus $121 million in the year-prior quarter.

When adjusted for these items, fourth quarter fiscal 2015 net earnings from continuing operations were $66 million, or 24 cents per diluted share, the company related, including a three cent per diluted share benefit related to the additional week in fiscal 2015.

Adjusted earnings per diluted share were three cents above a Zacks Investment Research analyst earnings estimate.

Net earnings from continuing operations for the prior year’s fourth quarter were $42 million, or 15 cents per diluted share, and included $8 million in after-tax net costs and charges primarily for employee severance and debt refinancing activities. After adjustment for those items, fourth quarter fiscal 2014 net earnings from continuing operations were $50 million, or 18 cents per diluted share, SuperValu maintained.

At the company’s value-oriented Save-A-Lot operation, net sales were $1.14 billion and included a $79 million benefit from the 53rd week, compared to $999 million last year, an increase of 13.7%, or 6% excluding the additional week, the company noted. When adjusted for the 53rd week, the sales increase reflected the impact of new store openings and a network identical store sales gain of 3.6%. Save-A-Lot fourth quarter operating earnings were $47 million, including $3 million of store closure charges. As adjusted for closure expense, Save-A-Lot operating earnings were $50 million versus $43 million in last year’s quarter, according to SuperValu.

Fourth quarter Retail Food segment net sales were $1.22 billion, including an $87 million benefit from the 53rd week, compared to $1.09 billion last year, a gain of 12.5%, or 4.4% excluding the additional week, the company stated. When adjusted for the 53rd week, the sales advance resulted primarily from newly acquired stores and an identical store sales increase of 1.1%.

Retail Food operating earnings in the fourth quarter were $44 million versus $38 million in the prior-year period, including, $2 million in employee severance costs. As adjusted for the severance costs, Retail Food operating earnings in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 were $40 million.

“We finished the year with a strong quarter, highlighted by positive identical store sales at both Save-A-Lot and Retail Food as well as the transition of the first stores in our important new relationship with Haggen,” said SuperValu president and CEO Sam Duncan, referencing a distribution arrangement with the Pacific Northwest grocery store chain.