LA HABRA, Calif. -- Food 4 Less Supermarkets here last week reported lower sales and a loss for the third quarter ended April 2.
The loss totaled $4.3 million in the quarter. This compared with a loss of $5.8 million in the year-ago period.
If charges of $4.5 million related to the Jan. 17 earthquake in California are excluded, however, Food 4 Less would have reported income of $200,000 for the quarter and a loss of $800,000 for the year-to-date period.
Food 4 Less also said its operating cash-flow margin has increased for seven consecutive quarters. Cash flow -- or operating income before depreciation, interest, taxes, inventory adjustments and charges related to the earthquake -- totaled $28.8 million, or 4.9% of sales, in the recent third quarter. This compared with cash flow of $24.2 million, or 3.9% of sales, in last year's third quarter. For the 40-week period, operating cash flow was $94.6 million, or 4.7% of sales, compared with $72.5 million, or 3.4% of sales, in the year-ago period.
Sales declined 5.2% in the 12-week quarter to $588 million and fell 5.4% for the 40-week period to $2 billion. Same-store sales fell 4.7% for the quarter and 6.4% in the year-to-date period.
Ken Bann, a securities analyst with Bear Stearns, New York, said the company's operating earnings and margins continue to move in a positive direction.
"Overall, the numbers are good, and Food 4 Less continues to bring down costs and improve margins," he said.