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    Sales Down, Earnings Up for Q1 at Supervalu

    Results reflect continued progress on ‘8 Plays to Win’ strategy

    Supervalu Inc. reported its first quarter fiscal 2012 net sales of $11.1 billion, down a bit from the $11.5 billion reported for the same period a year ago.

    The Minneapolis-based grocer reported Q1 net earnings of $74 million, or 35 cents per diluted share, compared to last year’s $67 million, or 31 cents per diluted share. When adjusted for $25 million in net after-tax charges, primarily related to retail market exits in Connecticut and Cincinnati as well as the impact of a labor dispute at the company’s Massachusetts-based Shaw’s store chain, Q1 2011 net earnings were $92 million, or 43 cents per diluted share.

    “First-quarter results reflect the progress we are making on our ‘8 Plays to Win strategy,’ and we remain on track to deliver our fiscal 2012 guidance,” said Craig Herkert, Supervalu’s CEO and president. “Our dedicated associates are utilizing new planning tools, analytics and a hyper-local focus to help us meet the needs of today’s consumers, while reducing shrink and improving our operations.”

    Q1 retail food net sales were $8.6 billion, compared to $9 billion last year. The change in net sales primarily reflects a drop in same-store sales of 3.9 percent and previously announced market exits. Gross profit margin in the first quarter was $2.5 billion, or 22.1 percent of net sales, compared to $2.6 billion or 22.5 percent last year.

    Operating earnings for the first quarter were $280 million, or 2.5 percent of net sales, compared to $301 million, or 2.6 percent of net sales last year. Retail food operating earnings were $219 million, or 2.5 percent of net sales.

    Supervalu expects to generate fiscal 2012 earnings per diluted share within its previously disclosed range of $1.20 to $1.40. Net sales for the 52-week fiscal year are estimated to be approximately $37 billion; same-store sales growth, excluding fuel, is projected to drop 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. Capital spending is projected to be $700-750 million, which will include 55 to 75 store remodels and 210 Save-A-Lot stores, including licensed locations; no new traditional retail supermarkets are planned for fiscal 2012.

    Supervalu Inc. operates 1,107 traditional retail stores, including 801 in-store pharmacies; 1,283 hard-discount stores, of which 907 are operated by licensee owners; and 1,900 independent stores serviced primarily by the company’s traditional food distribution business.

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