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Weis Markets reports EPS jump

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. Weis Markets reported a diluted earnings per share increase of 28 cents, compared with the same period one year ago, nearly doubling to 58 cents per share. During the thirteen-week period ended Sept. 26, the company’s net income increased 92.2% to $15.6 million, compared with the same period in 2008.

“At a time of changing customer spending patterns and during a period of considerable deflation in key categories, we continue to make significant progress in our core markets due to improved operating performance throughout our company,” stated Weis Markets’ president and CEO David Hepfinger. “We are encouraged with our results and hope to build on them in the fourth quarter.”

Third-quarter sales increased 3.2% to $623.2 million; comparable sales increased 1.1%.

In the third quarter, Weis Markets completed its acquisition of 11 stores in the Binghamton, N.Y. area on Aug. 23 and reopened the units Aug. 25, which contributed to a majority of the sales increase during the quarter.

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Costco reports drop in Q4, fiscal-year earnings

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. A combination of the recession and foreign exchange rates have hit mass merchandiser Costco hard over the past year.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based mass merchandiser reported net sales of $21.89 billion during the 16-week period ended Aug. 30, a 3% decrease from $22.63 billion in net sales that the company had in fourth quarter 2008. Net sales for fiscal year 2009 were $69.89 billion, a 2% decrease from $70.98 billion in fiscal year 2008. Nevertheless, the five-week period ending Oct. 4 saw net sales of $6.85 billion, an increase over the $6.67 billion during the same five-week period last year.

Net income during the fourth quarter was $374 million, compared with $398 million in fourth quarter 2008. Net income for the entire fiscal year was $1.09 billion, compared with $1.28 billion in fiscal year 2008.

“Fiscal 2009 results, including those of the fourth quarter, were negatively impacted by these previously reported factors: ongoing softness in U.S. sales, primarily the result of a weak economic environment; higher employee benefit costs, mainly consisting of higher healthcare eligibility and usage; and lower U.S. dollar amounts of international profits as a result of weaker foreign currencies,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti said in a statement.

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‘Fright Aid’ coupons help shoppers save

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. To help customers get their spook on for less this year, Rite Aid is offering in-store “Fright Aid” coupons worth more than $30 off select merchandise including Halloween and fall seasonal goodies.

Smart shoppers can also use their Halloween receipts dated Oct. 17 or earlier to earn additional savings of $5, $10 and $20 gift certificates through Rite Aid’s Rake in the Savings program. Details are available at www.riteaid.com.

“We know many Americans are a bit spooked this year by all the gloomy economic news,” said Bryan Shirtliff, SVP category management at Rite Aid. “But we also know that Halloween is a fun time for many to bury their worries and dress up as someone – or something – else.”

In the past, Saturday holidays such as this year’s have meant increased interest in attending or hosting Halloween parties, Shirtliff adds. The National Retail Federation predicts the average Halloween shopper will spend $56.31 with total holiday spending reaching $4.75 billion.

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