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The Fresh Market, Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter And Full Year Fiscal 2012 Earnings

Selling, general, and administrative expenses for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 increased $13.4 million to $82.4 million, compared to the corresponding thirteen week period in fiscal 2011. Selling, general, and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales increased by 80 basis points to 22.3% for the period, compared to 21.5% for the corresponding thirteen week period in fiscal 2011. This increase in the selling, general and administrative expense rate was primarily attributable to higher store compensation and benefits expenses, partially offset by lower pre-opening expenses and insurance reimbursements of storm-related losses incurred in the second quarter of fiscal 2012. The Company opened two new stores in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 and opened six new stores in the corresponding prior year period. This reduction in new store openings and associated pre-opening expenses positively impacted selling, general, and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales by approximately 20 basis points. For fiscal 2012, selling, general, and administrative expenses increased $56.4 million to $303.5 million, or 22.8% as a percentage of sales, from $247.0 million, or 22.3% as a percentage of sales, for the corresponding fifty-two week period in fiscal 2011. The increase in expenses was primarily attributable to higher store level compensation costs and incremental expenses associated with the Company's share-based compensation program.

Operating income increased $1.5 million to $30.8 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, compared to $29.3 million for the corresponding thirteen week period of fiscal 2011. Operating income as a percentage of sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 decreased 80 basis points to 8.3%, compared to 9.1% for the corresponding period of fiscal 2011. This decrease was primarily attributable to higher compensation costs and an increase in depreciation expense, partially offset by improvement in gross margin rate. For fiscal 2012, operating income increased $18.6 million to $101.5 million, compared to $82.9 million in fiscal 2011. As a percentage of sales, operating margin increased by 10 basis points to 7.6% for fiscal 2012, compared to operating margin of 7.5% for the prior year. The primary driver of the increase in operating margin for fiscal 2012 was the increase in gross margin rate, partially offset by higher employee-related expenses and depreciation expense.

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