US supermarket group Publix has said that earnings in the first half of the year were down 2.6% despite rising profits in the second quarter.

A 1.7% gain in the second quarter failed to offset weaker operating results in the first three months.

Net earnings for the second quarter totalled US$300.8m, up from $295.8m last year. However, earnings in the fist half remained down on last year at $622.3m, compared to $638.9m.

Publix’s sales for the first half were $12.4bn, a 2.4% increase from last year’s $12.1bn. However, comparable-store sales decreased 2.7% during the period.

Publix is privately-owned and operated by its employees. Its stock, which is not publicly traded, increased in value from $15.55 per share to $16.05 per share during the period.

“Although the economy continues to be weak, I’m pleased with the improvement in our operating results and stock price,” said CEO Ed Crenshaw.