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    Sales Up, Profits, Comps Down at Publix

    Like many in the industry, the regional grocer is feeling the effects of the economy.

    Publix's sales may have increased for the fourth quarter of 2008, but its comps and revenues took a hit from the economy, as did those of most retailers in today's tough economy.

    "Like most companies, our results and stock price were negatively affected by the continued downturn in the economy," Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw said. "During these difficult times, we remain focused on providing excellent customer service."

    Sales for the quarter were $6 billion, a 2.6 percent increase from last year's $5.9 billion. Comparable-store sales decreased 0.9 percent, and net earnings for the quarter $249 million, compared with $311 million in 2007, a decrease of 19.9 percent. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter decreased to 31 cents, down from last year's 37 cents per share.

    Publix's sales for the fiscal year ended Dec. 27, 2008were $23.9 billion, a 4 percent increase from last year's $23 billion. Comparable-store sales for 2008 increased 1.3 percent.

    Net earnings for 2008 were $1.1 billion, compared to $1.2 billion for 2007, a decrease of 8 percent, and the retailer's earnings per share were $1.33 for 2008, down from $1.41 per share in 2007.

    Effective March 1, Publix's stock price decreased from $17.90 per share to $16.10 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.

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