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BOISE, Idaho - Albertson's Inc., the No. 2 U.S. supermarket chain, today reported sales of $9.4 billion for the third quarter ended Nov. 1, 2001, a 4.1 percent increase vs. the prior year. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 2.3 percent while identical store sales advanced 1.7 percent. Net earnings before restructuring and other charges totaled $180 million, or $0.44 per share, meeting First Call consensus estimates and company guidance. Including restructuring and other charges net earnings were $176 million, or $0.43 per share.
"The revitalization of Albertson's continued to accelerate in the third quarter of fiscal 2001," said Larry Johnston, chairman and CEO. "We delivered strong growth and met earnings expectations in spite of increasing economic pressures and aggressive competition from both traditional grocery retailers and a growing number of supercenters. With a strong team effort from all our dedicated associates, we are meeting the challenges of the marketplace as we unleash the company's enormous untapped potential."
Cash flow from operations for the quarter totaled $442 million, a 37 percent increase over the $322 million for third quarter last year. Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses before restructuring and other charges were 23.82 as a percent to sales for the quarter. This marked the company's third consecutive quarterly improvement and the first quarter that SG&A expense ratios have been less than prior year levels.
"Albertson's is making consistent progress on each of the five strategic imperatives that are guiding our turnaround strategy," Johnston said, citing reductions in controllable expenses, more customer-focused initiatives, disposition of under-performing stores, technology initiatives, and its new three-year labor agreement in northern California. The company says it is on schedule with management and administrative headcount reductions, as well as store closures.
Commenting on third quarter operating achievements, Peter Lynch, president and chief operating officer, highlighted the company's strengthening operations in existing markets through sharply focused marketing and merchandising programs. "Albertson's continues to grow stronger and better," Lynch said. "Our results in the third quarter clearly show we are dedicated to capitalizing on all our great resources including our talented and dedicated associates as we expand our leadership in the grocery and drug store industry."
"The third quarter results we are announcing today clearly show that Albertson's newly-refined business model can operate successfully, even in a difficult economic and competitive environment," Johnston said. "As we begin to see the benefits of our turnaround strategy, we are increasingly confident that we will deliver on earnings per share commitments. Excluding restructuring and other charges, we expect to meet the current Wall Street Earnings Per Share consensus of $0.56 for the fourth quarter."
Albertson's currently operates more than 2,500 retail stores in 36 states across the Unietd States. Its banners include Albertson's, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Osco Drug, Sav-on Drugs, Max Foods, Super Saver, and Seessel's by Albertson's.