Smith's Food & Drug Centers Inc. enjoyed a year of "solid growth" in fiscal 1990 with a 31 percent increase in net income to $34.3 million or $1.36 per share.

That's the upbeat report Smith's chairman and chief executive Jeffrey Smith had for shareholders at the 95-store food and drug chain's annual meeting Wednesday.Smith said the earnings increase came on sales of $2.03 billion, up 17 percent over fiscal 1989.

Also Thursday, directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of 9 cents per common share payable June 14 to shareholders of record May 15.

Other highlights for the past year included the opening of 15 combination food and drug centers, completion of a new ice cream manufacturing plant and frozen-food warehouse in Layton and construction of a 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Phoenix. (Please see this Sunday's Money section cover story for a complete look at the Smith's organization.)

Smith said 18 smaller, obsolete stores were closed during the year, essentially completing the company's upgrading program to larger stores. Smith told shareholders the company now operates "the most up-to-date stores in the industry" with 80 percent new or remodeled during the past five years.

During fiscal 1991, the company plans to open 17 combination centers including its first stores in Southern California. Most of these new centers will be opened during the last quarter of this year. Construction has started on several sites in Southern California with the first openings planned for fall.