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Regional wholesaler Unified Grocers, Inc. saw its stock rise 5 percent over last year to just over $3.04 per share, driven by earnings of $11 million for the fiscal year ended October 2, 2010.
"Despite a challenging and difficult business environment, our earnings were right on target and by comparing the same 52 weeks from 2009 and 2010, our total sales were off only about one percent," said Al Plamann, president and CEO of Unified. "Given the uncertainties associated with the economy and less than stellar results we have seen from other grocery companies, we feel that 2010 was a solid year for Unified and its retail members. This solid performance resulted in a five percent increase in our shareholders' stock price and enabled us to set aside a portion of our non-patronage earnings into permanent equity. Additionally, subsequent to the fiscal year end, we re-financed our credit line for five years at favorable terms and conditions.”
The Los Angeles-based cooperative reported net sales of $3.921 billion for 2010, just under last year’s $4.051 billion for 2009. The company attributed this decrease to its 2009 fiscal year being a 53-week year compared to a 52-week year for fiscal 2008, and overall weak economic conditions, including a shift in customer demand towards lower cost items. The decrease in sales was partially offset by additional sales generated from new customers in fiscal 2010.
Earnings before patronage dividends and income taxes were $31.1 million for 2010, compared to $39.3 million last year, a decrease due in large part to the general decline in sales and higher non-union pension and postretirement expenses, partially offset by lower overall distribution, selling, and administrative expenses, the company said.
"While we believe that 2011 will again be a challenging year, we also feel that there are signs that a recovery is beginning to take hold," Plamann said. "Many of our retailers, for example, invested in the future growth and success of their businesses in 2010 by opening new stores and remodeling existing ones. Because this trend is continuing in 2011, we believe it is an indication of confidence regarding future business prospects for independent retail grocers."
Unified is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.