LOS ANGELES — Unified Grocers here last week said second-quarter net income rose about 25%, to $3.1 million, compared with year-ago results, on a 0.8% gain in sales, to $959.7 million.
The cooperative wholesaler attributed the sales gain primarily to the favorable timing of Easter in the most recent quarter, which ended April 3. If not for the Easter shift — the holiday occurred in the third quarter of last year — sales would have been down by about 1%, Unified said, citing the weak economy.
In addition to the sales gains, earnings also increased as a result of cost controls, partially offset by increased pension and post-retirement expenses and reduced inventory holding gains. Operating income of $7.9 million in the quarter was 0.8% of sales in the most recent quarter, vs. $6.8 million, or 0.7% of sales, in the year-ago quarter, the company reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Year-to-date net income increased 7% to $6.8 million, while sales were down 1.8%, to $1.96 billion. Earnings before patronage dividends totaled $15.6 million, down 23%, attributable to the “unusually high level of food inflation and other vendor-related support” during the first quarter of a year ago that has not recurred this year, the company said.
Year-to-date operating income of $20.95 million was 1.1% of sales, vs. $24.12 million, or 1.2% of sales in the year-ago, 26-week span.
“Consumer demand for grocery items continues to be mixed in Unified's marketplace,” said Alfred A. Plamann, president and chief executive officer, Unified Grocers. “Some of our member retailers are doing quite well, particularly those in locations where consumer spending remains strong. On the other hand, some of our independents are finding this market — and the much hoped-for recovery — to be far more sluggish and distant than they had originally anticipated.”
Sales to new customers previously supplied by other wholesalers added $10.2 million to the company's revenues in the year-to-date period, the company said, vs. $5.4 million lost to competing suppliers.