Weis Markets today [Monday] reported US$507.9m in Q4 sales for the 13-week period ending 29 December 2001, compared to US$546.4m for the comparable 14-week period in 2000. Adjusting for the extra week in 2000, the company’s current fourth quarter sales increased 0.3% and identical store sales increased 0.4%.

Fourth quarter net income, which was affected by a US$4.7m decline in tax-free investment income as a result of the Company’s stock buyback last year, totaled US$12.5m compared to US$15.2m for the same period in 2000. Current fourth quarter basic and diluted earnings per share increased to US$0.46 compared to US$0.36 per share for the same period in 2000.

2001 Year-to-Date Results

For the 52-week period ending 29 December 2001, Weis Markets’ sales totaled US$1.988bn compared to US$2.061bn for the 53-week period ending 30 December 2000, a period that included US$37.1m in sales from the company’s food service division prior to its sale. Adjusting for the extra week, Weis Markets sales decreased 1.6% in 2001 and same store sales increased 0.5%

Weis’ 2001 net income totaled US$50.1m compared to US$73.8m for 2000. The company’s net income for the year was affected by the 52-week to 53-week fiscal year comparison; US$5.3m in non-recurring expenses related to the stock buyback; an US$8.7m decline in tax-free investment income; and a US$3.7m increase in employee wage and benefit costs. In addition, the company’s year-over-year comparisons were affected by the US$5.9m in pre-tax income generated in the second quarter of 2000 by the sale of its food service division.

The company generated US$1.55 in basic and diluted earnings per share in 2001 compared to US$1.77 in 2000. The impact from the stock buyback was partially realized in the earnings per share calculation in 2001 and will be fully realized in 2002.

Norman S. Rich, Weis Markets’ president, commented: “Our net income was affected by increasing employee benefit costs, a decline in investment income as a result of our stock buyback last year and other one-time costs associated with the buyback. Despite these challenges, we have worked hard over the past year to build on our strengths.

“Over the past twelve months, we have launched a new advertising campaign, increased our promotional spending and continued to make significant investments in our store base and in technology.

“We believe our Company is well-positioned in the coming year as the economy begins to improve.”