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    Harris Teeter Posts Higher Q4, FY 2013 Sales, Net Earnings

    Grocer galvanized by Kroger merger, store acquisitions

    Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. has reported that sales for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 1 grew 3.8 percent to $4.71 billion, from $4.54 billion last year. Sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 rose 4.5 percent to $1.19 billion from $1.14 billion in the year-ago period. According to Matthews, N.C.-based Harris Teeter, these increases were attributable to higher comparable-store sales and sales from new stores, partly offset by store closings. Comps grew 2.23 percent for the year and 1.49 percent for the fourth quarter, from the respective comparable periods of fiscal 2012.

    “We are pleased with our results for fiscal 2013 and the opportunities ahead of us with the Kroger merger and our recent store acquisitions,” said Thomas W. Dickson, Harris Teeter’s chairman of the board and CEO. “Our pricing and promotional strategies were effective during fiscal 2013 in driving unit sales and customer visits. On a comparable-store basis, we experienced increased unit sales compared to fiscal 2012 and our store-brand penetration continues to improve. We believe these positive results are attributable to our continuing commitment to our customers to deliver outstanding values and excellent customer service.”

    In July, Harris Teeter and Cincinnati-based Kroger entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Kroger will acquire all outstanding shares of Harris Teeter for $49.38 per share in cash. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013.

    In September, Harris Teeter, Inc. entered into an agreement with Greenbax Enterprises Inc. and some of its subsidiaries to purchase six Piggly Wiggly store locations and one future store location in the Charleston, S.C., area. The acquisition was completed during the first quarter of fiscal 2014, with five of the locations being reopened shortly afterward. The remaining two locations are scheduled to open during fiscal 2014.

    During fiscal 2013, the grocer opened nine new stores, two of which were stores acquired from Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Lowe’s Food Stores Inc. in 2012 that were reopened under the new 201central format and banner and one of which replaced a store previously closed, and closed one store that will be replaced with a new store slated to open in fiscal 2014.

    Harris Teeter posted net earnings of $107.9 million for fiscal 2013, versus net earnings of $82.5 million for fiscal 2012. Net earnings for fiscal 2013 comprised of earnings from continuing operations of $109 million, or $2.21 per diluted share, and losses from discontinued operations of $1.1 million. Merger-related and acquisition costs reduced earnings from continuing operations after tax in fiscal 2013 by $6.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share. Net earnings for fiscal 2012 comprised earnings from continuing operations of $99.9 million, or $2.04 per diluted share, and losses from discontinued operations of $17.4 million. The net impact of the Lowes Foods transaction’s incremental costs, offset by the insurance gains, reduced earnings from continuing operations after tax in fiscal 2012 by $15 million, or 31 cents per diluted share.

    Net earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 came to $21.1 million, or 43 cents per diluted share. Merger-related and acquisition costs reduced net earnings in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 by $5.9 million, or 12 cents per diluted share. Net earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 totaled $22.8 million and comprised earnings from continuing operations of $23.7 million, or 48 cents per diluted share, and losses from discontinued operations of $0.9 million. The net impact of the Lowes Foods transaction incremental costs reduced earnings from continuing operations after tax in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 by $4.5 million, or 9 cents per diluted share.

    Capital expenditures for fiscal 2013 totaled $191 million and are expected to reach about $240 million for fiscal 2014. The fiscal 2014 capital plan includes 18 new stores (among them two replacements and seven acquired Piggly Wiggly store locations). Harris Teeter plans to continue the expansion of its existing markets, including the Washington, D.C., metro area.

    The company operated 216 stores as of the end of fiscal 2013.

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