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    Ingles Reports Q1 Profit Jump; Looks to Grow in '05

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Regional operator Ingles Markets, Inc. here said on Friday its first-quarter net income grew a whopping 110.7 percent to $5.1 million, on improved sales.

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Regional operator Ingles Markets, Inc. here said on Friday its first-quarter net income grew a whopping 110.7 percent to $5.1 million, on improved sales.

    Ingles said that both net sales, at $559.3 million, and comparable store sales were up 4.7 percent for the quarter ended Dec. 25, 2004. Gross profit also moved up by 6.5 percent for the quarter, while gross profit as a percentage of sales increased to 25.4 percent, from 25.0 percent in the prior year quarter.

    Ingles attributed the increases to better sales in its higher margin perishable departments.

    During the first quarter, Ingles opened one new store and completed one major remodel/expansion. For the balance of the fiscal year, the company said it plans to open three new stores, complete one major remodel expansion, add seven fuel stations, and purchase sites for future expansion.

    Commenting on the company's results, c.e.o. Robert P. Ingle said in a statement, "We couldn't be more pleased with the results of the first quarter of our fiscal year. Our comparable store sales remain very strong against high comparable store sales in the first quarter of last year when we introduced the Ingles Advantage Savings and Rewards Card. Our team has focused on providing quality, freshness, variety, and convenience throughout our stores, and we are particularly pleased with the growth in our perishable departments, providing solid gross margin growth. We believe we have gained a better understanding of our customers' needs over the last year and we look forward to continuing to provide them with a top notch shopping experience."

    Ingles was warned in December that its stock could be delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Market after the company failed to file its 2004 annual report on time. It received an additional notice last month when it also did not report results for the first quarter ended Dec. 25 by the specified deadline.

    Under an agreement for continued Nasdaq listing, Ingles had to release its first-quarter results by March 31 and must provide information related to an informal Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry, as well as file on time all reports through Dec. 31, 2005.

    Ingles' stock on the Nasdaq closed at $12.99 on Friday, a slight increase of 0.46 percent, on a day when most of the market was down.

    Ingles Markets has operations in six Southeast states, including 195 supermarkets and 74 neighborhood shopping centers, all but 17 of which contain an Ingles supermarket.

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