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    Fleming Reports Big Loss; Says in Kmart Talks

    DALLAS - Leading distributor Fleming Cos. Inc. on Thursday reported large fourth-quarter loss and said it may reject its supply contract with Kmart Corp. through the retailer's bankruptcy process.

    DALLAS - Leading distributor Fleming Cos. Inc. on Thursday reported large fourth-quarter loss and said it may reject its supply contract with Kmart Corp. through the retailer's bankruptcy process.

    Kmart -- which hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of April -- accounted for about 20 percent of Fleming's sales in the third quarter.

    Fleming said it is in talks with Kmart to modify its distribution network following the discount chain's announcement it would close 326 stores. The grocery distributor said it would provide earnings and sales forecasts for 2003 after it completes talks with Kmart.

    Fleming posted a loss in the fourth quarter of $89.8 million, or $1.65 per share, after taking losses on its chain of discount supermarkets it is selling. A year earlier it earned $5.7 million, or 12 cents per share.

    Fleming said earnings from continuing operations in the fourth quarter was $5.8 million, or 11 cents a share, versus income of $8.6 million or 19 cents a share, a year ago. On that basis, Fleming was expected to report on average a 13 cents profit, according to research firm Thomson First Call.

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