GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spartan Stores here on Wednesday reported a 4.4% decline in comparable-store sales for its fiscal third quarter, but overall profitability improved amid cost containment and other initiatives, as well as one-time gains.
The company said net earnings for the 16-week quarter, which ended Jan. 1, were up 45%, to $7.3 million, after some non-cash gains in the recent period. Consolidated (retail and wholesale) sales were down about 0.6%, to $782.3 million.
Adjusted third-quarter operating income, excluding one-time non-cash gains in the recent quarter, totaled $14.2 million, vs. $14.4 million in the year-ago third quarter. EBITDA remained around 3.3% of sales.
"Our retail comparable-store sales have shown improvement on a sequential basis for the past three quarters, and our operating earnings remain at historically strong levels," said Dennis Eidson, president and chief executive officer, in a prepared release.
He said improved cash flow, driven largely by improvements in the distribution segment, allowed the company to reduce debt by $47 million vs. year-ago levels. Adjusted distribution income in the quarter was up 12.7%, to $13.2 million, while sales rose about 1%, to $346.9 million.
Adjusted operating income in the retail segment was $900,000, vs. $2.6 million in the year-ago period, while sales were down about 1.8%, to $435.4 million.