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Publix Sales Rise 16% In First Quarter

File photo
File photo

While the COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the stock prices of many companies, grocers like Lakeland-based Publix have gotten a boost. Publix saw its stock price rise and sales jump 16.1% in the first quarter to $11.2 billion, as compared to the same time period in 2019.

Publix stock, which is privately traded and available only to employees, rose from $48.90 per share March 1 to $50.10 as of May 1.

Despite the increase in sales, Publix's earnings took a sizable hit, dropping 32% from $981 million in 2019 to $667.3 million in the first quarter reporting period, which ended March 28. Publix blamed the earnings drop on net "unrealized losses" and gains on equity securities.

Related:  Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

The grocery sector appears to be one of the few bright spots in the first quarter. In advance estimates, the U.S. Census Bureau reported grocery sales were forecast to be up 26.9% for March.

"Never before have we experienced a more challenging time,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones in a news release. “Our associates’ efforts to serve our customers and communities have been nothing short of extraordinary. I want to thank our associates and couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside them.”

Publix is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S., with more than 220,000 employees. It has 1,242 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

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