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    Despite Storms, Publix's 3Q Sales Surge

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- Even hurricanes Katrina and Rita were not strong enough to stop Publix's sales growth for the third quarter of 2005, which reached approximately $4.9 billion -- a 5.7 percent increase from last year's $4.6 billion.

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- Even hurricanes Katrina and Rita were not strong enough to stop Publix's sales growth for the third quarter of 2005, which reached approximately $4.9 billion -- a 5.7 percent increase from last year's $4.6 billion.

    Comparable-store sales for the third quarter of 2005 increased 2.3 percent, a number that would have been 6.7 percent if sales for the third quarter of 2004 hadn't been affected by the four major hurricanes the company experienced during that year.

    Net earnings for the third quarter were approximately $200.3 million this year, compared with $183.7 million in 2004, an increase of 9 percent. Earnings per share were $1.17 for the third quarter of 2005, vs. $1.04 per share for the third quarter last year.

    Publix's sales for the first nine months of 2005 were approximately $14.9 billion, a 7.8 percent increase from last year's $13.8 billion. Net compared earnings for the first nine months of 2005 were approximately $694.3 million, as opposed to $586.5 million in 2004, an increase of 18.4 percent. Earnings per share increased to $4.02 for the first nine months of 2005, up from $3.29 per share during last year.

    "Our financial performance continues to be excellent. I congratulate our Publix associates for their efforts toward this success," said Publix c.e.o. Charlie Jenkins Jr. "They work hard every day to deliver the quality products and customer service that keep our customers coming back."

    In other Publix news, Publix Pharmacies and Bloomfield, Conn.-based CIGNA HealthCare have agreed to co-brand CIGNA's Cignature Rx Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan and team up for co-sponsored educational communications.

    Under the agreement, Publix Pharmacies and CIGNA will together tell and educate Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee residents about the Cignature Rx Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Publix has chosen CIGNA as the only Medicare Part D prescription drug plan sponsor with which it will co-brand a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan card.

    "Selecting CIGNA to co-brand a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan will enable us to offer our patients an excellent choice for coverage under Medicare Part D," said Publix director of media and community relations Maria Brous in a statement. "Publix's business objective focuses on providing the customer value, and CIGNA's Medicare Part D plans are well aligned with our objectives."

    According to CIGNA Senior Care v.p. Terri Swanson, "Publix's significant market presence in the region is a key differentiator because it helps provide CIGNA Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries in the Southeast convenient access."

    CIGNA will offer three Cignature Rx Medicare Part D plan options, in alliance with NationsHealth, Inc. Among the options will be a no-deductible plan and a plan that offers a higher level of coverage for generic drugs through the coverage gap. Each option will feature broad access to prescription drugs. Plan participants will be able to get prescriptions filled at any of the more than 50,000 Cignature Rx participating network pharmacies across the country, including over 629 Publix Pharmacies.

    CIGNA will provide educational information to shoppers at each Publix pharmacy department. Enrolling customers will receive a co-branded CIGNA/Publix prescription drug card allowing prescriptions to be filled at CIGNA network participating pharmacies, including any Publix Pharmacies.

    As well as accepting CIGNA Part D Prescription plan cards at its pharmacy departments, Publix will welcome Medicare Part D prescription drug cards from the other Medicare Part D providers approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    Publix is owned and operated by its 133,000 employees, with 2004 sales of $18.6 billion. The retailer has 866 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee.

    CIGNA will offer its Medicare Part D plans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in alliance with NationsHealth, Inc. This alliance combines CIGNA's pharmacy product
    capabilities with NationsHealth's experience in service and distribution to the Medicare population.

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