Empire Company Reports Third Quarter Results

STELLARTON, NS, March 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - Empire Company Limited (TSX: EMP.A) today announced financial results for its third quarter ended February 4, 2012. For the third quarter, the Company recorded net earnings, net of minority interest, of $80.0 million ($1.17 per share) compared to $88.9 million ($1.31 per share) in the third quarter last year. Adjusted earnings in the third quarter were $72.2 million ($1.06 per share) compared to $68.4 million ($1.01 per share) in the third quarter last year.

Highlights

  • Sales of $3.98 billion, up $107.8 million or 2.8 percent.
  • Sobeys' same-store sales increased 1.2 percent.
  • Operating income(1) of $123.2 million versus $140.1 million last year. Operating income last year included a $28.5 million pre-tax expense reduction related to an amendment to post-retirement benefits.
  • Net earnings, net of minority interest, of $80.0 million ($1.17 per share) compared to $88.9 million ($1.31 per share) last year.  Included in net earnings for the third quarter last year was $21.3 million associated with an amendment to post-retirement benefits.
  • Adjusted net earnings(2), net of minority interest, of $72.2 million ($1.06 per share) versus $68.4 million ($1.01 per share) last year.
  • Funded debt to total capital ratio of 24.6 percent compared to 27.5 percent last year.

____________

(1) Certain balances have been reclassified for changes to comparative figures (see Note 21 to the Company's third quarter unaudited consolidated financial statements).
(2) Adjusted net earnings exclude items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance.

"We are pleased with our third quarter performance as we continue to grow in both our food retail and real estate businesses," stated Paul Sobey, President and CEO. "We continue to grow by working together organization-wide to improve productivity and lower costs while driving product and service innovation to enrich our customers' experience and to ensure our competitive position in an ever changing retail landscape."

Dividend Declaration

The Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of 22.5 cents per share on both the Non-Voting Class A shares and the Class B common shares that will be payable on April 30, 2012 to shareholders of record on April 13, 2012.  These dividends are eligible dividends as defined for the purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada) and applicable provincial legislation and, therefore, qualify for the favourable tax treatment applicable to such dividends.

With the transition to International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") effective the first quarter of fiscal 2012, the comparative figures in the financial results table below for the 13 and 39 weeks ended January 29, 2011 have been restated to conform with IFRS.

CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL RESULTS

                                   
  13 Weeks Ended   ($)   39 Weeks Ended   ($)
($ in millions, except per share amounts) Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change   Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change
Sales $ 3,984.8   $ 3,877.0   $ 107.8   $ 12,175.3   $ 11,807.0   $ 368.3
EBITDA(1) (2)   207.9     226.0     (18.1)     652.4     653.2     (0.8)
Operating income (1) (2)   123.2     140.1     (16.9)     397.9     403.3     (5.4)
Net earnings, net of minority interest (3)   80.0     88.9     (8.9)     247.3     318.1     (70.8)
Adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest (4)   72.2     68.4     3.8     231.4     222.8     8.6
EPS fully diluted $ 1.17   $ 1.31   $ (0.14)   $ 3.63   $ 4.66   $ (1.03)
Adjusted EPS (fully diluted) (4) $ 1.06   $ 1.01   $ 0.05   $ 3.40   $ 3.26   $ 0.14

(1) See Non-GAAP Financial Measures contained in this news release.
(2) Certain balances have been reclassified for changes to comparative figures (see Note 21 to the Company's third quarter unaudited consolidated financial statements).
(3)  Net earnings, net of minority interest, for the 13 and 39 weeks ended January 29, 2011 includes an amendment to post-retirement benefits which served to increase net earnings by $21.3 million. Net earnings, net of minority interest, for the 39 weeks ended January 29, 2011 includes a net gain on the sale of a 27.5 percent ownership interest in Wajax Income Fund ("Wajax") of $76.2 million.
(4) Adjusted net earnings and adjusted fully diluted EPS are earnings measurements that exclude items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance.


Sales

Consolidated sales for the third quarter were $3.98 billion compared to $3.88 billion in the third quarter last year, an increase of $107.8 million or 2.8 percent.  Sobeys' sales equalled $3.94 billion versus $3.83 billion in the third quarter last year, an increase of $109.2 million or 2.9 percent.  Investments and other operations' sales in the third quarter were $47.6 million versus $49.0 million in the third quarter last year, a decrease of $1.4 million or 2.9 percent.

EBITDA

Consolidated EBITDA in the third quarter was $207.9 million compared to $226.0 million in the third quarter last year. Adjusting EBITDA for items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance, as outlined in the table below, resulted in an adjusted EBITDA of $198.2 million compared to $198.9 million last year.

                   
  13 Weeks Ended   39 Weeks Ended
($ in millions) Feb. 4, 2012 Jan. 29, 2011   Feb. 4, 2012 Jan. 29, 2011
EBITDA (consolidated) (1) $ 207.9 $ 226.0   $ 652.4 $ 653.2
Adjustments:                  
  Gain on disposal of assets   (12.0)   (2.1)     (17.1)   (19.1)
  Sobeys' distribution and store closure costs   -   6.0     -   27.5
  Post-retirement benefit amendment   -   (28.5)     -   (28.5)
  Sobeys' organizational reset costs   2.3   -     6.4   -
  Dilution gains   -   (2.5)     (10.0)   (3.8)
    (9.7)   (27.1)     (20.7)   (23.9)
Adjusted EBITDA $ 198.2 $ 198.9   $ 631.7 $ 629.3

(1) Certain balances have been reclassified for changes to comparative figures (see Note 21 to the Company's third quarter unaudited consolidated financial statements).


Operating Income

Consolidated operating income in the third quarter was $123.2 million, a decrease of $16.9 million from the $140.1 million recorded in the third quarter last year. Adjusting operating income for items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance, as outlined in the previous table for EBITDA, resulted in an adjusted consolidated operating income of $113.5 million compared to $113.0 million in the third quarter last year.

Net Earnings

Consolidated net earnings, net of minority interest, in the third quarter equalled $80.0 million compared to $88.9 million in the third quarter last year.

The following table presents Empire's segmented net earnings, net of minority interest, for the 13 and 39 weeks ended February 4, 2012 compared to the 13 and 39 weeks ended January 29, 2011.

                                   
  13 Weeks Ended   ($)   39 Weeks Ended   ($)
($ in millions, net of tax) Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change   Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change
Food retailing $ 72.9   $ 82.8   $ (9.9)   $ 222.9   $ 221.3   $ 1.6
Investments and other operations   7.1     6.1     1.0     24.4     96.8 (1)   (72.4)
Consolidated $ 80.0   $ 88.9   $ (8.9)   $ 247.3   $ 318.1   $ (70.8)

 (1) Includes the net gain of $76.2 million from the sale of a 27.5 percent ownership interest in Wajax.

 

Adjusted Net Earnings

The table below adjusts reported net earnings for items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance. Excluding the impact of the adjustments noted in the table, Empire recorded adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest, of $72.2 million ($1.06 per share) for the 13 weeks ended February 4, 2012 compared to $68.4 million ($1.01 per share) recorded in the third quarter last year.

                       
  13 Weeks Ended   39 Weeks Ended
($ in millions, except per share amounts, net of tax) Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011
Net earnings, net of minority interest $ 80.0   $ 88.9   $ 247.3   $ 318.1
Adjustments:                      
  Gain on sale of Wajax   -     -     -     (76.2)
  Gain on disposal of assets   (9.3)     (1.6)     (13.3)     (15.0)
  Sobeys' distribution and store closure costs   -     4.2     -     19.9
  Post-retirement benefit amendment   -     (21.3)     -     (21.3)
  Sobeys' organizational reset costs   1.5     -     4.4     -
  Dilution gains   -     (1.8)     (7.0)     (2.7)
    (7.8)     (20.5)     (15.9)     (95.3)
Adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest $ 72.2   $ 68.4   $ 231.4   $ 222.8
Adjusted EPS (fully diluted) $ 1.06   $ 1.01   $ 3.40   $ 3.26

 
With the transition to IFRS, the Company now has two reportable operating segments:

1) Food Retailing, which consists of wholly-owned Sobeys Inc.; and
2) Investments and Other Operations, the principal components of which include investments in Crombie REIT (44.6 percent ownership interest; 40.3 percent fully diluted), an approximate 40 percent ownership interest in Genstar Development Partnership and wholly-owned Empire Theatres Limited.


FOOD RETAILING

The table below provides the food retailing segment's contribution to Empire's consolidated sales, EBITDA, operating income, net earnings, net of minority interest and adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest.

                         
  13 Weeks Ended   ($)   39 Weeks Ended   ($)
($ in millions) Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change   Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change
Sales $ 3,937.2   $ 3,828.0   $ 109.2   $ 12,021.3   $ 11,653.7   $ 367.6
EBITDA (1)   191.0     208.8     (17.8)     598.1     600.1     (2.0)
Operating income (1)   110.6     127.1     (16.5)     355.8     362.1     (6.3)
Net earnings, net of minority interest   72.9     82.8     (9.9)     222.9     221.3     1.6
Adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest (2)   65.5     65.4     0.1     213.7     206.2     7.5

(1) Certain balances have been reclassified for changes to comparative figures (see Note 21 to the Company's third quarter unaudited consolidated financial statements).
(2) Adjusted net earnings exclude items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance.


Sobeys' sales in the third quarter increased $109.2 million or 2.9 percent to $3.94 billion compared to $3.83 billion in the same period last year. During the third quarter, same-store sales increased 1.2 percent compared to the third quarter last year.

Sobeys recorded gross profit of $947.4 million in the quarter, an increase of $32.3 million over the third quarter last year. Gross margin, which is gross profit divided by sales, increased to 24.1 percent compared to 23.9 percent in the third quarter last year.

Sobeys contributed EBITDA to Empire in the third quarter of $191.0 million compared to $208.8 million last year.  Sobeys' EBITDA last year included a $28.0 million pre-tax expense reduction related to an amendment to post-retirement benefits. Sobeys also recorded gains on the disposal of assets in the current quarter of $11.4 million.  Adjusting for these and other items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance, as outlined in the table below, resulted in an adjusted EBITDA contribution from Sobeys to Empire of $181.9 million in the third quarter compared to a $186.2 million contribution in the third quarter last year.

                   
  13 Weeks Ended   39 Weeks Ended
($ in millions) Feb. 4, 2012 Jan. 29, 2011   Feb. 4, 2012 Jan. 29, 2011
EBITDA (contributed by Sobeys) (1) $ 191.0 $ 208.8   $ 598.1 $ 600.1
Adjustments:                  
  Gain on disposal of assets   (11.4)   (0.5)     (17.1)   (17.5)
  Sobeys' distribution and store closure costs   -   6.0     -   27.5
  Post-retirement benefit amendment   -   (28.0)     -   (28.0)
  Sobeys' organizational reset costs   2.3   -     6.4   -
  Dilution gains   -   (0.1)     (0.4)   (0.1)
    (9.1)   (22.6)     (11.1)   (18.1)
Adjusted EBITDA $ 181.9 $ 186.2   $ 587.0 $ 582.0

(1) Certain balances have been reclassified for changes to comparative figures (see Note 21 to the Company's third quarter unaudited consolidated financial statements).

 

Sobeys' operating income contribution to Empire in the third quarter was $110.6 million compared to $127.1 million last year.  Adjusting Sobeys' operating income for items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance, as outlined in the previous table, resulted in an adjusted operating income contribution of $101.5 million compared to $104.5 million in the third quarter last year.

Sobeys continues to focus on disciplined cost management initiatives, supply chain and retail productivity improvements and migration of best practices and planned capital investments to drive sales and improve margins over time.

Sobeys contributed net earnings, net of minority interest, to Empire of $72.9 million in the third quarter ended February 4, 2012 versus $82.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2011. Sobeys contributed adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest, to Empire of $65.5 million versus $65.4 million in the third quarter last year.

INVESTMENTS AND OTHER OPERATIONS

The table below provides the investments and other operations segment's contribution to Empire's consolidated sales, EBITDA, operating income, net earnings, net of minority interest and adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest.

                                   
  13 Weeks Ended   ($)   39 Weeks Ended   ($)
($ in millions) Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change   Feb. 4, 2012   Jan. 29, 2011   Change
Sales $ 47.6   $ 49.0   $ (1.4)   $ 154.0   $ 153.3   $ 0.7
EBITDA   16.9     17.2     (0.3)     54.3     53.1     1.2
Operating income                                  
  Crombie REIT (1)   5.2     4.5     0.7     14.8     13.3     1.5
  Real estate partnerships (2)   6.4     2.8     3.6     16.8     14.4     2.4
  Wajax   -     -     -     -     8.6     (8.6)
  Other operations, net of corporate expenses (3)   1.0     5.7     (4.7)     10.5     4.9     5.6
    12.6     13.0     (0.4)     42.1     41.2     0.9
Net earnings, net of minority interest (4)   7.1     6.1     1.0     24.4     96.8     (72.4)
Adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest (5)   6.7     3.0     3.7     17.7     16.6     1.1

(1) 44.6 percent equity accounted interest in Crombie REIT (January 29, 2011 - 46.5 percent interest).
(2) 40.7 percent equity accounted interest in Genstar Development Partnership, 45.9 percent equity accounted interest in Genstar Development Partnership II, and 42.1 percent equity accounted interest in each of GDC Investments 4, L.P., GDC Investments 5, L.P., and GDC Investments 6, L.P. (collectively referred to as "Genstar").
(3) Other operations (net of corporate expenses) operating income for the 13  weeks ended February 4, 2012 includes a gain on disposal of assets of $0.6 million (Q3 last year - $1.6 million).  Operating income in the third quarter last year included dilution gains of $2.4 million and $0.5 million associated with a post-retirement benefit amendment.
(4) Net earnings, net of minority interest, for the 39 weeks ended January 29, 2011 includes a net gain on the sale of a 27.5 percent ownership interest in Wajax of $76.2 million.
(5) Adjusted net earnings exclude items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance.

 

Investments and other operations' sales, primarily generated by Empire Theatres, equalled $47.6 million in the third quarter ended February 4, 2012 versus $49.0 million in the third quarter last year, a $1.4 million or 2.9 percent decrease.

Investments and other operations contributed EBITDA to Empire in third quarter of $16.9 million compared to $17.2 million last year.  EBITDA contribution in the third quarter last year included $2.4 million in dilution gains resulting from a change in the ownership level in Crombie REIT along with gains on disposal of assets of $1.6 million.  Adjusting for these and other items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance, as outlined in the table below, resulted in adjusted EBITDA from investments and other operations of $16.3 million compared to $12.7 million last year.

                   
  13 Weeks Ended   39 Weeks Ended
($ in millions) Feb. 4, 2012 Jan. 29, 2011   Feb. 4, 2012 Jan. 29, 2011
EBITDA (investments and other operations) $ 16.9 $ 17.2   $ 54.3 $ 53.1
Adjustments:                  
  Gain on disposal of assets   (0.6)   (1.6)     -   (1.6)
  Post-retirement benefit amendment   -   (0.5)     -   (0.5)
  Dilution gains   -   (2.4)     (9.6)   (3.7)
    (0.6)   (4.5)     (9.6)   (5.8)
Adjusted EBITDA $ 16.3 $ 12.7   $ 44.7 $ 47.3

 
Investments and other operations contributed operating income of $12.6 million compared to $13.0 million in the third quarter last year.  Equity accounted earnings from the Company's investment in Crombie REIT increased $0.7 million to $5.2 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2012 compared to $4.5 million in the third quarter last year, as a result of higher property revenues and in turn higher property net operating income.  Equity accounted earnings generated from the Company's real estate partnerships amounted to $6.4 million compared to $2.8 million in the same quarter last year, an increase of $3.6 million primarily as a result of higher average selling prices on residential lot sales. Other operations, net of corporate expenses, contributed operating income of $1.0 million compared to $5.7 million in the third quarter last year. Operating income in the third quarter last year included dilution gains of $2.4 million, gains on the disposal of assets of $1.6 million and $0.5 million associated with a post-retirement benefit amendment.

Adjusting investments and other operations' operating income for items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance, as outlined in the previous table, resulted in an adjusted operating income contribution of $12.0 million versus $8.5 million in the third quarter last year.

Investments and other operations contributed net earnings of $7.1 million to Empire's consolidated third quarter fiscal 2012 net earnings, net of minority interest, compared to a $6.1 million contribution in the third quarter last year. Adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest, contribution from investments and other operations was $6.7 million versus $3.0 million in the third quarter last year.

Forward-Looking Information

This news release contains forward-looking information that reflect management's current expectations related to matters such as future financial performance and operating results of the Company. Expressions such as "anticipates", "expects", "believes", "estimates", "could", "may", "plans", "will", "would", and other similar expressions or the negative of these terms are generally indicative of forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release include those relating to Sobeys' expectations that it will continue to focus on disciplined cost management initiatives, supply chain and retail productivity improvements, and migration of best practices to continue to fund investments to drive sales and improve margins over time which could be impacted by the final scope and scale of these initiatives; and the Company's expectations that cost productivity, growth and innovation initiatives will continue to enrich the customers' experience and ensure our competitive position which may be impacted by economic and competitive conditions.

By its very nature, forward-looking information requires the Company to make assumptions and is subject to inherent risks and uncertainties which give rise to the possibility that the Company's expectations or objectives will not prove to be accurate.

These forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from such statements. These uncertainties and risks are discussed in the Company's materials filed with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities from time to time, including the Risk Management section of the annual Management's Discussion and Analysis.

Readers are urged to consider these and other risks, uncertainties and assumptions carefully in evaluating the forward-looking information and are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking information. The forward-looking information in this press release reflects the Company's expectations as of March 13, 2012 and is subject to change after this date. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that may be made from time to time by or on behalf of the Company other than as required by applicable securities laws.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

There are measures included in this press release that do not have a standardized meaning under GAAP and therefore may not be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other publicly traded companies.  The Company includes these measures because it believes certain investors use these measures as a means of assessing financial performance.

Empire's definition of the non-GAAP terms are as follows:

  • Same-store sales are sales from stores in the same locations in both reporting periods.
  • Gross profit is calculated as sales less cost of sales.
  • Operating income or earnings before interest and taxes ("EBIT") is calculated as net earnings before minority interest, finance charges (net of finance income) and income taxes.
  • Adjusted operating income is operating income excluding items which are considered not indicative at underlying business operating performance.
  • Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") is calculated as EBIT plus depreciation and amortization of intagibles.
  • Adjusted EBITDA is EBITDA excluding items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance.
  • Funded debt is all interest bearing debt, which includes bank loans, bankers' acceptances, long-term debt and debt related to assets held for sale.
  • Total capital is calculated as funded debt plus shareholders' equity, net of minority interest.
  • Adjusted net earnings are net earnings excluding items which are considered not indicative of underlying business operating performance.

Conference Call Invitation

The Company will hold an analyst call on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 beginning at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) during which senior management will discuss the Company's financial results for the third quarter ended February 4, 2012.  To join this conference call dial (888) 231-8191 outside of the Toronto area or (647) 427-7450 from within the Toronto area.  You may also listen to a live audiocast of the conference call by visiting the Company's website located at www.empireco.ca.  Replay will be available by dialling (855) 859-2056 and entering passcode 56788032 until midnight March 20, 2012, or on the Company's website for 90 days following the conference call.

Unaudited Consolidated Financial Statements

The Company's unaudited consolidated financial statements for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 ended February 4, 2012 are available at the following link:

Q3 Fiscal 2012 Unaudited Consolidated Financial Statements

This information along with the Company's quarterly and annual Management's Discussion and Analysis can be accessed through the Investor Centre section of the Company's website at www.empireco.ca and also on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

Further information on the transition to IFRS is included in Note 22 to the Company's third quarter unaudited consolidated financial statements.

About Empire

Empire Company Limited (TSX: EMP.A) is a Canadian company headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. Empire's core businesses include food retailing and related real estate.  With over $16 billion in annual sales and approximately $6.5 billion in assets, Empire and its related companies directly employ approximately 49,000 people.

Additional financial information relating to Empire, including the Company's Annual Information Form, can be found on the Company's website at www.empireco.ca or on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.  

SOURCE EMPIRE COMPANY LIMITED

PDF with caption: "Q3 Fiscal 2012 Unaudited Consolidated Financial Statements". PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/03/13/20120313_C2214_DOC_EN_11017.pdf



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