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    Publix Sees Comps Jump in Q4

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- Regional retailer Publix Supermarkets reported stellar fourth-quarter performance yesterday, including a 10.3 percent total sales jump and 6 percent comparable-store sales increase compared to the same period in 2003.

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- Regional retailer Publix Supermarkets reported stellar fourth-quarter performance yesterday, including a 10.3 percent total sales jump and 6 percent comparable-store sales increase compared to the same period in 2003.

    Privately held Publix, which operates 850 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee, said sales for the quarter reached approximately $4.8 billion, compared with $4.3 billion. Net earnings for the quarter were approximately $232.9 million, compared to $177.7 million in 2003, an increase of 3 percent. Earnings per share increased to $1.34 for the fourth quarter, up from $0.99.

    Publix also said sales for the fiscal year ended Dec. 25, 2004, reached $18.6 billion, a 10.7 percent increase from 2003's $16.8 billion. Net earnings for 2004 were $819.4 million, compared to $660.9 million for 2003. Earnings per share increased to $4.64, up from $3.59.

    Based on the most recent appraisal, Publix's stock price increased $5.50 from $58.50 per share to $64 per share. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

    "I'm very pleased that our excellent operating performance resulted in another significant increase in our stock price," Publix c.e.o. Charlie Jenkins Jr. said in a statement. "Our associates continue to deliver the premier service that makes us the leader in our industry."

    In other Publix news, the chain has launched a new program called "Publix Preschool Pals," in which children ages two, three, and four receive a quarterly newsletter, prizes, cards on their birthdays, and other special gifts. They will also have access to a special Web site created just for preschoolers and their parents. The free program is open to children and their parents living in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. Topics to be addressed include food safety, meal planning, family communications, child safety, crafts, education and reading, and physical activities.

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