Thursday, October 9, 2003

Thriftway parent has plunging profit

The Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Supermarket chain Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., parent of Cincinnati's Thriftway supermarkets, reported a 96 percent drop in profit during the fiscal first quarter, citing increased promotional costs.

For the three months ending Sept. 17, the company said Wednesday it earned a profit of $1.2 million, or 1 cent per share, compared to $34.8 million, or 25 cents per share, during the same quarter last year. Wall Street analysts were expecting a break-even performance, according to Thomson First Call.

Revenue fell to $2.67 billion from $2.83 billion a year ago.

The company had warned that it expected to break even because of efforts to generate sales. Those efforts included lowered pricing, neighborhood-specific marketing and remodeling and improving store lighting.

"We are committed to executing and following through on the plan," said Frank Lazaran, Winn-Dixie's president and CEO. "Our results will depend on our execution, competitors' response and customer acceptance of our plan over the remainder of the year."

Jason Whitmer, an analyst with FTN Midwest Research in Cleveland, noted that the company withdrew its earnings guidance for the year Wednesday. A company spokeswoman didn't return a call for comment.

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