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    Ahold Turns in 'Solid' Q3

    Higher identical sales at American banners Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover contributed to the company's overall healthy performance.

    Ahold yesterday said its "solid" performance for the third quarter of 2008 was buoyed by improved comps at its U.S. operations Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover.

    Overall sales for the Dutch retailer were 5.8 million euros, an increase of 7.6 percent at constant exchange rates. Operating income in the quarter was 262 million euros, up 26 million euros, but net income was 195 million euros, a decline 19 million euros.

    "I was particularly pleased with the increase in identical sales at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover as a result of the actions we have taken under the Value Improvement Program over the last two years," noted Ahold c.e.o. John Rishton. "The company has a healthy balance sheet and is well positioned to offer value to our customers in the current economic environment. The price investments made in recent years have strengthened the competitive position of all our banners, but we remain vigilant and will respond to changes in consumer and competitor behavior."

    Year to date, net sales were 19.1 billion euros, a 7.2 percent increase at constant exchange rates; operating income was 833 million euros, 10 million euros higher than last year; and net income was 794 million euros, a decline of 1.9 billion euros from the year-ago period.

    At Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover, third-quarter, net sales of $3.9 billion were up 4.4 percent vs. last year, including $14 million of sales to Tops (before its divestment, such sales were recorded as intercompany sales). Identical sales increased 4.6 percent at Stop & Shop (3.8 percent excluding gasoline net sales) and 0.7 percent at Giant-Landover (0.6 percent excluding gasoline net sales), even with lower pharmacy sales. Operating income was $167 million, or 4.3 percent of net sales, a rise of $17 million from the year-ago period.

    Year-to-date, net sales of $13.1 billion were up 2.3 percent vs. last year, including $99 million of sales to Tops. Identical sales grew 2.5 percent at Stop & Shop (1.5 percent) excluding gasoline net sales) and declined 0.9 percent at Giant-Landover (1.0 percent excluding gasoline net sales). Operating income came to $494 million, or 3.8 percent of net sales, a decrease of 45 million from the year-ago period.

    At Giant-Carlisle, third-quarter net sales were $1.1 billion, an 11.8 percent increase over last year. Identical sales rose 8.0 percent (5.4 percent excluding gasoline net sales). Operating income was $50 million, or 4.6 percent of net sales, an increase of $8 million over the year-ago period.

    Year-to-date, net sales were $3.6 billion, a 10.7 percent rise from last year. Identical sales grew 6.8 percent (4.3 percent excluding gasoline net sales). Operating income was $173 million, or 4.8 percent of net sales, up $8 million from the same period last year.

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