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    Earnings Reports Released by Supervalu, Costco, Winn-Dixie

    NEW YORK -- Several leading food retailers released earnings results today.

    NEW YORK -- Several leading food retailers released earnings results today.

    -- Minneapolis-based distributor and retailer Supervalu, Inc. said net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2004, which ended Sept. 6, were $4.6 billion, compared with $4.3 billion last year. Net earnings were $62.2 million, compared with $58.8 million last year, and diluted earnings per share were $0.46, compared with $0.44 last year. Included in the second quarter of this year were restructure and other charges of $0.01 per share.

    Supervalu chairman and c.e.o. Jeff Noddle commented on the results: "The successful execution of our business strategies is evident in a number of strong fundamentals across both retail and distribution. During the second quarter, we achieved strong retail comparable-store sales growth of 2 percent and grew our distribution top-line sales by more than 5 percent, while improving distribution operating earnings as a percent of sales by 30 basis points. This performance demonstrates Supervalu's ability to successfully differentiate our businesses, both in grocery retailing and logistics, with unique 'go to market' strategies that we expect will drive continued success."

    Second-quarter retail net sales were $2.4 billion, an increase of 6.2 percent compared with last year's second quarter net sales of $2.2 billion, primarily reflecting new store openings and improvement in comparable-store sales. Comparable-store sales growth for the quarter was 2.0 percent.

    -- Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corp. said income fell 3.2 percent in its latest quarter, but the results were better than the company had expected in August, when it said higher costs and reduced margins were hurting profit.

    The membership warehouse chain reported income of $239.4 million, or 51 cents a share, for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Aug. 31, compared with $247.4 million, or 52 cents a share, a year earlier.

    Revenue rose to $13.69 billion from $12.3 billion. Sales climbed 11 percent to $13.42 billion, while membership fees and other revenue rose 11 percent to $272.9 million. Comparable-warehouse sales increased 7 percent.

    -- Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., said at its annual shareholders' meeting that sales for the 12 weeks ended Sept. 17 were $2.7 billion, a decrease of $164.1 million, or 5.8 percent, compared with the same quarter last year.

    For the quarter, identical-store sales, which include enlargements and exclude the stores that opened or closed during the period, decreased 6.6 percent. Comparable-store sales, which include replacement stores, decreased 6.6 percent for the quarter.

    Net earnings for the quarter were $1.2 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, compared with $34.8 million, or $0.25 per diluted share, for the same quarter last year.

    Frank Lazaran, Winn-Dixie's president and c.e.o., said, "Our previously reported earnings guidance of break-even reflected our commitment to invest promotional dollars to increase sales. During the quarter, we initiated a plan to increase sales and improve earnings for the remainder of the fiscal year. The plan includes increased promotional activity, lowered pricing, improved friendly service, clean stores, improved in-stock conditions, neighborhood-specific marketing, and increased capital expenditures for remodeling, especially expenditures for in-store lighting improvements. We are committed to executing and following through on the plan. Our results will depend on our execution, competitors' response, and customer acceptance of our plan over the remainder of the year."

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