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    Canada's Largest Supermarket Chain Scores in Q4

    A flagging economy and IT upgrades will adversely affect Loblaws' fiscal 2009 earnings, though.


    Loblaw Cos., Ltd., Canada's largest supermarket chain, posted a quarterly profit in the last quarter of 2008, helped by a few one-time items, but is bracing for a tough 2009.

    Sales were buoyed in the last quarter compared with a year ago by having an extra week included in the tally, which also included the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Restructuring costs also went down, contributing to the solid numbers. Revenues rose to CAN $7.75 billion (US $6.15 billion) in the last quarter.

    The results were dampened, however, by a less-than-rosy outlook for the remainder of 2009. Loblaws is spending CAN $100 million (US $79.4 million) on information technology upgrades, and this, combined with the tough economy, should decrease earnings for 2009.

    "This investment, coupled with the continuing economic challenges and competitive pressures are expected to challenge results in 2009," the Brampton, Ont.-based company said.

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