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    Nash Finch Q2 Profits Rise 5 Percent

    Strong military distribution sales helped offset losses from customer defection.

    Second quarter profits at distributor Nash Finch Co. rose 5 percent, as sales in its military distribution segment helped offset the negative impact from the loss of a large customer midyear.

    Nash Finch's total sales for the quarter rang up $1.042 billion vs. $1.064 billion in the prior-year quarter, a decline of 2 percent, while sales for the first 24 weeks of 2008 were $2.064 billion vs. $2.096 billion in the prior-year period, a down 1.5 percent.

    Excluding the impact of the sales decrease the company attributed to a large customer that switched suppliers in mid-2007, Nash Finch's $34 million tally in the second quarter and $70.5 million year-to-date total were good for a 1.2 percent sales increase in the second quarter and 2 percent year-to-date gain.

    The company said its second quarter was negatively impacted from the shift of Easter to the first quarter in 2008 vs. the second quarter in 2007 by approximately $8.7 million or 0.9 percent. After adjusting for these items, sales would have increased by 2 percent vs. last year and 1.9 percent year-to-date.

    Net earnings for the second quarter 2008 were $10 million, or $0.77 per share, as compared with $9.6 million, or $0.70 per share in the prior year quarter. Net earnings for the first 24 weeks of 2008 were $21.4 million, or $1.62 per share, as compared to net earnings of $14.9 million, or $1.10 per share, in the same prior-year period.

    "In spite of strategic investment activity which temporarily negatively impacted the results of our retail division, we were able to improve Consolidated EBITDA slightly over the prior year as we had expected," said Alec Covington, Nash Finch's president and c.e.o. "This was possible due to the strong and dependable performance of our food distribution and military segments, both of which made solid improvements over prior year," he added.

    Covington went on to note that as planned and previously outlined, the company invested in several strategic projects "which negatively impacted our corporate retail segment results during the second quarter. We believe these investments are essential and will help to better position our corporate store group for the future as part of our overall strategic plan."

    During the second quarter financial report, Covington welcomed the company's new associates that came aboard through the stores Nash Finch recently acquired from Albertsons LLC in Rapid City, South Dakota and Scottsbluff, Neb. He also relayed favorable initial customer response to the new prototype Family Fresh Market that opened during the quarter in Hudson, Wis.

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