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Teeter sales drive Ruddick earnings up

Ruddick Corp. earnings increased 15.6 percent in the third quarter, to $24.5 million, or 51 cents a share, the Charlotte-based parent company of grocer Harris Teeter and textile maker American & Efird announced Thursday.

That's up from a net income of $21.2 million, or 44 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Net sales also grew during the 13 weeks that ended June 29, by 9.8 percent, to $1.01 billion, up from $923 million during the quarter that ended July 1, 2007.

Continued strong sales at Harris Teeter were largely responsible for the gains, Ruddick said in a news release. Sales at the Charlotte-based supermarket chain grew 10.8 percent, to $926.3 million, amid continued expansion into markets such as the Washington, D.C. area. The company has added 19 stores and closed four in the last year; six of the new stores opened in the third quarter.

Sales at Harris Teeter stores open a year or more, a key measure of retail performance, increased 1.7 percent.