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Albertson's Reports First-quarter Loss, Ups 2002 Outlook

BOISE, Idaho - Albertson's Inc. today reported a first-quarter loss due in part to restructuring expenses, but said its 2002 operating earnings should be in line with Wall Street's current consensus estimate, Reuters reports.

The Boise, Idaho-based retailer, which operates stores under its own name as well as Jewel-Osco, Max Foods, Super Saver, and Sav-on Drugs, said its bid to shift focus to profitable markets, shut underperforming stores and boost customer service had begun to pay off. Officials forecast that second-quarter profit would still be up 13 percent from the prior year's results.

"We have stabilized and restructured this company to be able to deliver double-digit earnings growth no matter what kind of an economy we are in," Larry Johnston, Albertson's chairman and CEO told Reuters in an interview.

"Our recovery has traction and not only have we stabilized the company as we said we would, but we've also been able to grow our comparable store sales... better than our strongest competitors," he added.

Albertson's reported a net loss of $81 million, or 20 cents a share for the first quarter ended May 2, compared with net income of $186 million or 46 cents a share a year-ago.

Excluding restructuring charges and other items, Albertson's, however, earned $233 million, or 57 cents a share.

Albertson's, which operates about 2,300 stores, said quarterly sales fell to $8.92 billion from $8.99 billion, while identical store sales -- which exclude new or replacement supermarkets -- rose 0.8 percent. Sales from stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent.
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