CARTERET, N.J. -- Pathmark Stores here said last week the company achieved a profit for the fourth quarter and year ended Feb. 1, despite flat sales caused by a difficult economy and competitive sales environment.
During a conference call with industry analysts, Eileen Scott, Pathmark's chief executive officer, attributed the results to the company's "improved promotional approach, expense-control program and conservative approach to capital investment."
Frank Vitrano, Pathmark's president and chief financial officer, told the analysts he does not expect the economy or the competition to improve significantly in 2003. "We are projecting same-store sales to be flat to positive 1% and total sales to grow between 1% and 2%. Earnings per share is projected to be between 52 cents and 62 cents," he added. As part of the company's efforts to control costs, Scott said Pathmark has in partnership with its unions offered voluntary buyouts and early retirement to some 1,300 store clerks.
Scott said the company has made a similar offer to its headquarters employees.
Vitrano outlined Pathmark's $95 million 2003 capital plan. He said the company plans to open three new stores (one of which will be a replacement), close one store, and complete 16 renovations.
For the 13-week quarter, sales were flat at $1 billion and comparable-store sales declined 1.6%, but the company had a net income of $7.9 million and earnings per share of 26 cents, vs. a loss of $58.6 million and $1.84 per share in the fourth quarter of the previous year.
For the year, sales declined 0.6% to $3.94 billion and comps fell 1.7%, but net income was $13.3 million and earnings per share were 44 cents, compared with a loss of $242 million and $8.07 per share in the previous year.