Retailers

Publix Crushes Q4 Sales, Eyes Heavy Investment in 2020

Annual sales increase best since 2015
Photograph courtesy of Publix

Coming off robust sales and earning gains in the fourth quarter and fiscal year, Publix Super Markets intends to increase capital spending by 40% to $1.6 billion in 2020.

The Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer in its annual report released March 2 said expenditures in the fiscal year, which began Dec. 29, would cover an unspecified number of new supermarkets, remodeling of existing units, new or enhanced information technology hardware and software, and the acquisition of shopping centers with the company as the anchor tenant.

Publix during fiscal 2019 devoted about $1.1 billion, which covered the cost of 35 new supermarkets, including five replacement stores, 177 remodels, technology enhancements and shopping center acquisitions.

Publix said it would finance the spending through internally generated funds or liquid assets.

The company said new and remodeled stores, along with a 3.6% increase in same-store sales, powered a 5.1% increase in revenues during the three-month fourth quarter ending Dec. 28. For the period, Publix generated $9.8 billion in sales.

Net earnings in the period totaled $789.3 million, compared to $407 million in the same period in 2018, an increase of 94%. Excluding the impact of net unrealized gains on equity securities in 2019 and net unrealized losses on equity securities in 2018, net earnings would have been $656.6 million, a decrease of 0.6%.

For the fiscal year, sales totaled $38.1 billion, an increase of 5.6%, and comps of 3.6% represented the company’s best year since a 4.2% gain in 2015. Net earnings for the year totaled $3 billion, or 7.9% of sales.

Effective March 1, Publix’s stock price increased from $47.10 per share to $48.90 per share. Publix's stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

“I’m delighted we had another increase in our stock price,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “I’m proud of our Publix associates for continuing to make us a leader in our industry and providing legendary customer service.”

Publix, the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with more than 200,000 associates, currently operates 1,243 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. 

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