Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc. (NYSE:HTSI) (the “Company”) today reported that sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 ended January 1, 2013 increased by 3.7% to $1.16 billion from $1.12 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. The increase in sales was driven by an increase in comparable store sales of 2.53% and sales from new stores, partially offset by store closings. During the first quarter of fiscal 2013, the Company opened three new stores, two of which were the stores acquired from Lowe’s Food Stores, Inc. (“Lowes Foods”) that were re-opened under a new format and banner - “201central”. Since the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2012, the Company has opened twelve new stores, opened one store that replaced a store closed in the first quarter of fiscal 2012, closed two stores and sold six stores to Lowes Foods, for a net addition of five stores. The closed stores included one that will be replaced with a new store scheduled to open in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 and one that was temporarily closed due to damage caused by flooding. The Company is in the process of repairing damages to the temporarily closed store and expects to re-open it once repairs are completed. The Company operated 211 stores as of January 1, 2013.
Gross profit in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 increased by 2.4% to $334.7 million (28.83% of sales) from $326.8 million (29.19% of sales) in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. The LIFO charge for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 was $0.7 million (0.06% of sales) as compared to $3.6 million (0.32% of sales) for the first quarter of fiscal 2012. The fiscal 2013 annual inflation rate as estimated by the Company has moderated since the first quarter of fiscal 2012.
Selling, general and administrative (“SG&A”) expenses in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 increased by 4.9% to $294.3 million (25.34% of sales) from $280.6 million (25.06% of sales) in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. The increase primarily resulted from incremental store growth and its impact on associated operational costs, along with the Company’s continued investment to remodel existing stores that enhance the product offering and customer experience. The Company’s emphasis on cost controls and improved labor management has been effective in offsetting a portion of the increases in pension expense and other fringe benefit costs and credit card expense.