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    Winn-Dixie Reports Profit Increase in Second Quarter

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. on Wednesday reported a higher fiscal second-quarter profit as a focus on marketing and a push to trim costs offset increased competition.

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. on Wednesday reported a higher fiscal second-quarter profit as a focus on marketing and a push to trim costs offset increased competition.

    The retailer said net earnings from continuing operations for the 16 weeks ended Jan. 8, 2003 were $91.4 million, or $0.65 per diluted share, as compared to $52.0 million, or $0.37 per diluted share, compared to the previous year. For the current year, net earnings from continuing operations were $126.2 million, or $0.90 per diluted share, compared to $83.1 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, in the previous fiscal year.

    Sales in the second quarter reached $3.8 billion, an increase of $18.2 million, or 0.5 percent, compared with the same quarter last year. For the 28 weeks ended Jan 8, 2003, sales from continuing operations were $6.6 billion, an increase of $43.2 million, or 0.7 percent, compared with the prior year.

    Identical store sales increased 1.3 percent for the quarter and 1.6 percent for the year. Comparable store sales, which include replacement stores, increased 1.3 percent for the quarter and 1.6 percent for the year.

    The grocer benefited from a payout for the November termination of an in-store banking deal by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Excluding the impact from that deal, net earnings from continuing operations would have been $58.9 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, for the current quarter, which represents a 13.4 percent increase from fiscal 2002.

    "We are pleased to have achieved positive identical store sales of 1.3 percent at a time when many of our competitors are reporting negative identical store sales," said president and CEO Al Rowland. "We continue to focus on consistent execution of the basics of supermarket operations, while investing in effective marketing programs and experimenting with new departments and formats. The early results from these new initiatives are encouraging. Also, we prepaid the $143 million remaining balance of our six-year term loan earlier today."

    During its second quarter, the company opened six new stores and closed four existing stores. It currently operates 1,075 stores and has seven new stores under construction.

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