Retailers

Weis Markets’ Q4 Finds Comps Up, Margins Down

Quarterly performance yields mixed bag for regional chain

Weis Markets' comparable-store sales in its fiscal fourth quarter increased by 1.2% when adjusted for an extra week in last year’s fourth quarter, driven by increased investments in price and promotions.

The effects of the federal tax changes in the quarter in the meantime helped earnings improve by 54.7% to $63.7 million and overcome declining operating profit. Sales totaled $883.7 million for the 13-week quarter, down from last year’s 14-week fourth-quarter total of $925.1 million.

Earnings per share of $2.37 were primarily driven by a $49.3 million decrease in deferred tax income as a result of the tax act.

Operating earnings of $22.3 million fell from $27 million in last year’s fourth quarter, or about $25.2 million excluding the extra week. That’s an 11.5% decrease, which the company said was attributable to price and promotional investments, which brought retail prices down despite inflating costs. The assimilation of 44 Food Lion stores acquired and converted to the Weis banner also contributed to the operating earnings decrease.

“In 2017, we achieved record sales of $3.5 billion and generated our 15th consecutive quarter of increased comparable-store sales," Chairman and CEO Jonathan Weis said in a statement. "During this time, we also worked to efficiently integrate 44 newly acquired stores. We have done much to position our company for future profitable sales growth.”

For the 52-week fiscal year, which ended Dec. 30, Weis reported $3.5 billion in sales, a 10.5% increase from the 53-week 2016 fiscal year.

Weis Markets, based in Sunbury, Pa., operates 205 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia.

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