COMPTON, Calif. -- Ralphs Grocery Co. here reported net income of $138.4 million for the year ended Jan. 30, a turnaround from a loss of $76.1 million in the previous year.
losses of $11 million and a deferred income tax benefit of $109.1 million.
Sales declined 4% to $2.7 billion for the year and fell 2.2% to $856 million in the 16-week fourth quarter. Net income for the fourth quarter totaled $114.6 million, compared with a loss of $21.4 million in the year-ago period.
Same-store sales fell 5.8% and 4.2% for the year and fourth quarter, respectively. The company's replacement stores, however, managed an average sales increase of 0.6%.
Operating cash flow -- or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and extraordinary charges -- improved to $230.2 million, or 8.4% of sales, in the full-year period. This compared with $227.3 million, or 8% of sales, in fiscal 1992.
Byron Allumbaugh, chairman and chief executive of Ralphs, said the improved cash flow and earnings were due "to operational efficiency and productive use of technology."
The chain's distribution facilities also continued to provide significant savings, he said.
Bob Lupo, a high-yield securities analyst with PaineWebber, New York, said Ralphs' ability "to continue to outperform the southern California market and generate cash flow, despite weak sales, is a laudable achievement." Lupo attributed this to the chain's management and distribution infrastructure.
Ralphs, a 165-store chain, opened eight new stores and remodeled six in 1993. It plans to open between seven and 11 new stores in 1994.