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By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – United Natural Foods Inc. said net income dropped 2.6 percent, or $500,000, to $17.18 million in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.
The food distributor said its profit declined primarily due to pre-tax expenses of $6.3 million related to the sale of its non-foods and general merchandise businesses.
Sales increased to $1.16 billion in the three months ended July 30, a gain of 17.2 percent when compared with the same period a year earlier. Earnings per share were 35 cents for the quarter, down from 41 cents per share.
The company also announced full-year results. Net income was $76.67 million, up from $68.32 million. Earnings per share were $1.62 in the year ended July 30, up from $1.58 in 2010. Sales for fiscal 2011 totaled $4.53 billion, an increase from $3.76 billion.
In its year-end summary, United Natural Foods said the gross margin was 34 basis points lower than the comparable prior-year period, at 18.2 percent of net sales for fiscal 2011. Gross margin was hurt by startup costs – inventory issues, and incremental freight and service costs – incurred in connection with the initial period of operations of the company’s new Lancaster, Texas, facility.
“Fiscal 2011 was a transitional year for UNFI, as we generated [more than] 20 percent sales growth, and record net income,” said Steven Spinner, president and CEO. “As we look forward to fiscal 2012, we plan to continue the roll-out of our new warehouse management system, while focusing on increasing service levels and operational productivity.”