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Supervalu Ups '09 Outlook; Shares Soar

MINNEAPOLIS - Supervalu Inc. here offered bullish guidance yesterday on its fiscal 2009 earnings expectations, of $3.06 to $3.22 a share, higher than current analysts' expectations of $3.05 a share. The company also raised its same store sales outlook to a range of 1 percent to 2 percent, bettering the 0.5 percent growth Supervalu expects to report for fiscal year 2008, which just ended.

The retailer-wholesaler's stock price of jumped on the news, closing at $28.09 in high volume trading yesterday. It had closed last Friday at $26.25.

"We are providing preliminary guidance for fiscal 2009 today and will give greater visibility to our 2009 outlook in mid April when we report our fiscal 2008 earnings," said Jeff Noddle, Supervalu chairman and c.e.o. "Our preliminary fiscal 2009 guidance range on a GAAP basis equates to an increase of 10 percent to 19 percent per diluted share and on an adjusted basis an increase of 4 percent to 11 percent per diluted share over fiscal 2008."

The company's current 53-week fiscal 2009 year ends February 28, 2009.

Noting that the company's latest earnings guidance reflects modest operating growth, including benefits of synergies, lower interest expense, and an extra week, Noddle said Supervalu remains "focused on our integration initiatives and our long-term growth strategies," and is "confident in the overall strength of our business and the future earnings potential of the company."

With regard to Supervalu's one-time acquisition-related costs, Noddle said, "Total one-time Albertsons acquisition-related costs are now estimated to fall in the $150 to $155 million range compared to previous guidance of $145 million, with consulting fees representing the primary component of this increase."

In early January, Supervalu revealed details of its 2009 capital plan, which calls for $1.3 billion for 165 major store remodels, 15 new traditional supermarkets and 55 to 65 limited assortment stores, including licensed stores.

In other news, David Oliver will be filling the role of interim v.p./investor relations for Yolanda Scharton, who as previously announced is leaving the company effective April 30, 2008. Oliver previously was Supervalu's v.p./supply chain controller and also served in a key leadership role with the Albertsons acquisition. Prior to joining Supervalu in 2004, Oliver was c.f.o. of Arden Group, Inc.
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