updated 12/14/2010 5:46:53 PM ET 2010-12-14T22:46:53

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 14, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Unified Grocers, Inc. ("Unified" or the "Company"), the largest wholesale grocery distributor in the western United States, announced earnings of $11.0 million for the fiscal year ended October 2, 2010 ("2010 period"), as compared to earnings of $14.8 million for the fiscal year ended October 3, 2009 ("2009 period"). As a result of this performance, the value of one share of stock held in the Company rose to just over $304, an increase of five percent over the previous year.

The Los Angeles-based cooperative reported net sales of $3.921 billion for the 2010 period, as compared to $4.051 billion for the 2009 period. The Company attributed its sales decrease to the Company's 2009 fiscal year being a 53-week year as compared to a 52-week year for fiscal 2009 and overall weak economic conditions, including a shift in customer demand towards lower cost items. The decrease in sales was partially offset by additional sales generated from new customers in fiscal 2010.

Earnings before patronage dividends and income taxes were $31.1 million for the 2010 period, compared to $39.3 million for the 2009 period. The decrease was due, in large part, to the general decline in sales and higher non-union pension and postretirement expenses, partially offset by lower overall distribution, selling, and administrative expenses.

"Despite a challenging and difficult business environment, our earnings were right on target and by comparing the same 52 weeks from 2009 and 2010, our total sales were off only about one percent," said Al Plamann, president and chief executive officer, Unified Grocers. "Given the uncertainties associated with the economy and less than stellar results we have seen from other grocery companies, we feel that 2010 was a solid year for Unified and its retail members. This solid performance resulted in a five percent increase in our shareholders' stock price and enabled us to set aside a portion of our non-patronage earnings into permanent equity. Additionally, subsequent to the fiscal year end, we re-financed our credit line for five years at favorable terms and conditions.

"While we believe that 2011 will again be a challenging year, we also feel that there are signs that a recovery is beginning to take hold," Plamann said. "Many of our retailers, for example, invested in the future growth and success of their businesses in 2010 by opening new stores and remodeling existing ones. Because this trend is continuing in 2011, we believe it is an indication of confidence regarding future business prospects for independent retail grocers."

Founded in 1922, Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States. Unified and its subsidiaries, which generated approximately $4 billion in sales during fiscal 2010, offer independent retailers all the resources they need to compete in the supermarket industry.

The Unified Grocers, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=1214

An online version of Unified's Form 10-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is available on Unified's website at www.unifiedgrocers.com and at www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml .

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements about the future performance of Unified Grocers based on Management's assumptions and beliefs in light of information currently available to it. There are a variety of factors that could cause actual and future results to differ materially from those anticipated by the statements made above. These factors are outlined in the Company's Form 10-K and other interim reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Furthermore, Unified undertakes no obligation to update, amend or clarify forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Unified Grocers, Inc.
   
 

(dollars in thousands except

for Stock Price)
For the Fiscal Year Ended
  October 2, 

2010


(52 Weeks)
October 3,

2009


(53 Weeks)
 

Net sales
$3,921,059 $4,050,678
     
Operating income  $42,650 $51,018
     
Earnings before patronage dividends and income taxes $31,139 $39,335
     
Patronage dividends  $14,038 $16,723
     
Net earnings $10,978  $14,755
     
Stock Price (exchange value) $304.48 $290.37
CONTACT:  Unified Grocers
          Tom Schaffner
          (323) 264-5200 ext. 4150

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