JACKSONVILLE, FL-The common stock of Florida’s largest grocer was trading at mid-morning today on the New York Stock Exchange at $11.93, the second-lowest range it has hit since posting an $11.72 per share price earlier in the 52-week tracking period.

The 70-year-old chain is kicking off an aggressive advertising and promotional campaign Oct. 3 to lure new customers to its 1,155 statewide locations.

The stock’s sharp drop followed the company’s announcement Sept. 25 that it was revising its first-quarter earnings expectations to a range of 15 cents to 18 cents per share from an earlier projection of 24 cents to 30 cents a share.

For the same quarter last year, Winn-Dixie earned seven cents per share as reported, or 11 cents per share, excluding non-recurring charges.

Thomson Financial/First Call was projecting first-quarter earnings of 18 cents to 27 cents per share, with a consensus at 25 cents per share. The company’s fiscal first quarter 2001 ended Sept. 19. Some analysts are predicting the stock will fall into single digits shortly before it recovers.

For the year, the retailer is lowering its earnings-per-share range to $1.05 to $1.20 from $1.60 to $1.75. Expected earnings for the second quarter are between 27 cents and 33 cents per share.

Winn-Dixie is also changing its monthly dividend payments to a quarterly basis to cut office-processing costs. The company will pay an annual dividend of 20 cents per share, down from $1.02. The quarterly dividend, starting in the second quarter, would be five cents a share.

In a prepared statement, company president/CEO Al Rowland says the half-billion-dollar restructuring, renovating and retrofitting of 690 stores out of a total 1,155 active locations has been completed but hasn’t generated the customer count needed to boost profits.

“We are lagging behind our projected timeframe for creating new customers which is adversely affecting our sales and profits,” Rowland says.

Winn-Dixie common opened today at $12.42 on volume of 264,700. The stock dipped to $11.93 at mid-morning, down 48 cents from yesterday’s close of $12.41 The 52-week high-low is $33.12 and $11.72.

The stocks’ price/earnings ratio is 37.31. There are 140.4 million shares outstanding. The company’s market capitalization is $1.67 billion.

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