MINNEAPOLIS -- Nash Finch here said last week it experienced increased earnings of 45 cents per share for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 30.
as core reasons for the increase.
The earnings exceeded those predicted by a poll of analysts at First Call/Thomson Financial, who expected earnings for the quarter to be 40 cents per share.
For the year, total sales dropped 2.6% to $4 billion, and earnings rose 19% to $106.6 million.
Total sales for the quarter increased 2% to $984.7 million, and earnings were up 20% to $29.3 million.
Nash Finch had previously stated that the company plans on boosting its retail business and concentrating its efforts on increasing market share where it operates, especially in the northern Midwest.
Also, the company had said it has made attempts to dominate the Hispanic customer base in its markets with its new Wholesale Food Outlet store model, and has rolled out a limited assortment format, Buy n Save in several locations.
For the year, retail revenues were up 20% to $1.3 billion compared to $856.6 million in the previous year. In the fourth quarter, revenue from retail operations rose 5% from $225.3 million to $237.4 million.
Nash Finch said its spending 63% of capital expenditures in 2000 on the retail division was evidence of its commitment to retail.
Also during 2000, the company acquired 12 Hinky Dinky stores and built or acquired six additional stores, bring its store total from 114 in 1999 to 118 at the end of last year.
Ron Marshall, chief executive officer of the company, also stated during a conference call last week that the company is seeking new areas for growth in the retail division, and expects to acquire more stores in 2001, though no specific plans for acquisition exist at this time. However, Marshall said that acquisitions would most likely be in the three to 10 store range, similar to the Hinky Dinky acquisition.
Same-store sales decreased 2% in the fourth quarter 2000. Marshall said that despite increased competition in all markets, same-store sales did not decline over the past two years.
Marshall said that most of the competition in the markets Nash Finch operates was due to the growth of supercenters, and that the company has been working on ways to combat this increased competition.
"Developing new growth opportunities was another important objective in 2000," continued Marshall. "Nash Finch made significant progress in this area by launching many innovative marketing and merchandising programs, helping drive retail store sales and profitability for our independent customers, as well as our corporate stores."
Some of these programs include the development and rollout of high-quality private label items and cross promotions between Nash Finch's private labels and national brands.