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A&P Posts Smaller Third-Quarter Loss

MONTVALE, N.J. - The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. today reported a smaller loss for its fiscal third quarter, helped by a $75 million gain from the sale of the supermarket chain's Eight O' Clock coffee brand and good results at its Canadian stores.

A&P said its loss in the quarter ended Nov. 29 was $25.1 million, or 65 cents a share, compared with a loss of $30 million, or 77 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a $60 million impairment charge related to the restructuring of its Farmer Jack stores, A&P had a pretax loss from continuing operations of $41 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with a loss of $41 million, or $1.12 a share, a year earlier. Per-share results in the 2003 third quarter were boosted by $34 million in U.S. tax benefits, the company said.

The average estimate of analysts was for a loss of $1.21 a share, according to Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group Plc.

To cut costs, A&P has been pushing ahead with a widescale divestiture, which included the sale of its Eight O' Clock coffee division in November.

A&P said it expects to take charges of not more than $75 million in the next two quarters related to its ongoing effort to turn around its Farmer Jack Food Market unit. The grocer is in the process of closing some of its Farmer Jack stores in Michigan.

Sales for the quarter rose to $2.5 billion, from $2.3 billion a year earlier. Sales at grocery stores open at least a year rose 1.2 percent.
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