Ruddick Profit Climbs

The supermarket operator credits improving operating profits.
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Supermarkets chain operator Ruddick (RDK) said Thursday that earnings for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 1, rose 16.2% from the year-ago period, helped by improving operating profits at both its subsidiaries.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based company earned $17.9 million, or 37 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $15.4 million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 39 cents a share in the most recent quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 11.4% from a year ago to $838.3 million.

Gross profit for the quarter rose 16.1% from a year ago to $252.4 million and gross margin increased 120 basis points to 30.1%. Operating income for the quarter rose 18.9% to $30.8 million, and operating margin increased 30 basis points to 3.7%.

Ruddick's supermarkets chain subsidiary Harris Teeter's fourth-quarter revenue rose 11.9% from a year ago to $750.9 million, and its thread and specialty engineered yarns manufacturing subsidiary, American & Efird's revenue rose 7.4% to $87.4 million.

Harris Teeter plans to open 22 new stores, two of which will be replacements for existing stores, during fiscal 2007. The new-store development program is expected to result in a 15.6% increase in retail square footage as compared to a 8.4% increase in fiscal 2006, the company said.

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