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    Albertsons Sees Drop in Third-quarter Earnings

    BOISE, Idaho - Albertsons Inc. today announced that its third-quarter net earnings dropped more than 50 percent due to two labor disputes, particularly the ongoing labor dispute with the UFCW in Southern California.

    BOISE, Idaho - Albertsons Inc. today announced that its third-quarter net earnings dropped more than 50 percent due to two labor disputes, particularly the ongoing labor dispute with the UFCW in Southern California.

    For the third quarter ended on Oct. 30, the company said earnings slid to $92 million, or 25 cents per share, from $188 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

    "While the labor disputes negatively impacted our overall results, we were pleased with the underlying performance of our business," said Larry Johnston, chairman, c.e.o. and president. "Without the labor disputes, we believe we were on track to meet the First Call Consensus of Industry Analysts. Most importantly, comparable and identical store sales, excluding the labor disputes, were positive in the third quarter, indicating the underlying strength of our marketplace programs and the improving economy."

    Albertsons reported that total sales grew 1.6 percent or $139 million during the quarter, reaching $8.796 billion vs. last year's third quarter sales of $8.657 billion. Until the Southern California labor dispute, the company was on track to exceed its forecasted sales targets for the third quarter of 2003 both in total and in Southern California. Assuming that this level of performance had continued throughout the quarter, the company believes that this labor dispute negatively impacted total sales by $132 million.

    Total company comparable store sales (including the impact of the labor disputes) declined 0.8 percent and identical store sales declined 1.1 percent. When adjusted for the labor disputes, total comparable store sales increased 0.7 percent, and identical store sales increased 0.3 percent.

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