US food distributor and retailer Nash Finch has reported a rise in quarterly net earnings, despite lower sales.

The company posted net earnings of US$14.6m, or $1.15 per share, for the third quarter to 9 October, compared to $11.6m, or 95 cents per share, for the third quarter last year.

Total sales for the third quarter of 2004 were $1.19bn versus $1.22bn in the prior-year period, as increases in food and military distribution sales were offset by a decrease in retail sales primarily due to store closures at the end of the second quarter of 2004.
 
Food distribution segment sales for the third quarter were $610.9m versus $604.5m in the year-ago period. Corporate retail sales were $241.8m in the third quarter of 2004 versus $291.3m in the prior-year period.

Nash Finch said it expects earnings per share for fiscal 2004 to range between $1.17 and $1.23.