Winn-Dixie Dropped: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Grocer Winn-Dixie (NAS: WINN) announced preliminary fiscal 2011 earnings results yesterday -- same-store sales down 0.1%, total sales down 1.4%, and a per-share loss of about $0.54. These results are, as I say, "preliminary" -- but there's nothing tentative about investors' reaction to the news, as Winn-Dixie shares plunged 10% in Tuesday trading.

So what: Why is Winn-Dixie getting whipped for trying to break its news gently and warn investors ahead of time? Well, for one thing Wall Street was expecting only a $0.43-per-share loss. Tuesday's news tells us the damage is about 25% worse than feared.

Now what: It's also unlikely to get better any time soon. A quick scroll through Winn's financials shows that the grocer is unprofitable already and burning cash. Management just confirmed that it will earn nothing this year, and Wall Street has advised you not expect any profits next year, either. Longer-term, the company's expected to eke out 1.5% annual "growth" -- but if the company is losing money now, I shudder to think exactly what it is that will be growing ...

Management's set the bar low now. Think Winn-Dixie can turn things around and beat expectations going forward?Add the stock to your Fool Watchlistand find out.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorRich Smithdoes not own (or short) shares of Winn-Dixie. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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