UniFirst profit up, increases 2013 guidance

WILMINGTON — UniFirst Corp. said Wednesday that its net income jumped 39 percent in its fiscal second quarter on improved revenue. The results beat expectations, and the uniform company increased its full-year forecast.

Its shares were up just over 1 percent in midday trading after briefly rising to an all-time high earlier in the session.

UniFirst President and chief executive Ronald Croatti said he is pleased with the company’s performance, particularly given the challenging economic environment. He said businesses remain hesitant to add new costs, including new employees who are potential wearers of UniFirst’s uniforms.

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The Wilmington-based company earned $26.6 million, or $1.33 per share, for the quarter that ended Feb. 23. That’s up from $19.2 million, or 96 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose nearly 8 percent to $334.3 million from $310 million with gains in its core laundry operations and a decline in its specialty garment segment.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.13 per share on revenue of $329.1 million.

The company said that based on the strength of the first half of its year, it is increasing its full-year earnings forecast. This is the second time the company has raised its outlook for the year. In January, UniFirst said it expected to earn between $5.10 and $5.25 per share on revenue between $1.34 billion to $1.35 billion.

UniFirst now expects to earn between $5.65 and $5.80 per share for its 2013 fiscal year on revenue between $1.34 billion and $1.35 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $5.22 per share on revenue of $1.34 billion for the year.

The company’s shares gained $1.20, or 1.4 percent, to $89.77 by midday after rising as high as $93 earlier in the session. That was an all-time high for the company’s shares, according to FactSet.

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