Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fleming Profits Up for Quarter, Down for Year

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fleming Profits Up for Quarter, Down for Year

Article excerpt

Though Fleming Cos. Inc.'s annual earnings for 1996 dropped 36 percent, fourth quarter results showed sharp increases for the Oklahoma City-based food distribution company.

For 1996, annual net earnings were $26.7 million compared with $42 million in 1995. This decrease was primarily the result of a one-time $20 million litigation charge related to the Premium Sales settlement.

After adjusting for the settlement charge, 1996 earnings per share would have been $1.01 compared to the adjusted earnings per share at $1.00 for 1995. Sales for the year fell 6 percent to $16.5 billion from $17.5 billion for 1995. Chairman and CEO Robert Stauth points to several victories for Fleming in 1996, despite the decrease in net earnings for the year. "Distribution and productivity improved 2.6 percent, confirming this is one of Fleming's core competencies. Another win for us was that retailers purchased substantially more of our retail services," Stauth said. The CEO said Fleming also divested 62 "non strategic stores" and invested in four new stores. "We also completed 41 remodels and made several major retail systems improvements in 1996," Stauth added. Fleming's fourth quarter earnings show a substantial gain from 1995 -- a 155 percent improvement. For the last quarter of 1996, net earnings totaled $10.3 million, compared with $4 million for the fourth quarter of the previous year. Quarterly earnings per share of 27 cents in 1996 increased 145 percent from 11 cents per share for the fourth quarter of 1995. Net sales for the quarter dipped to $3.9 billion compared to $4.1 billion in 1995. Fleming attributes the increased quarterly earnings to strong margin improvements in the food distribution segment, effective expense controls and cost reduction initiatives in operations. "We are quite encouraged by the significant jump in Fleming's earnings during the fourth quarter over the previous year," said Stauth. "Operating earnings (for the quarter) increased 20 percent in both our food distribution and retail food segments in the fourth quarter. These results continue the improvement trend in adjusted earnings per share which began in the fourth quarter of 1995. …

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