Safeway, owner of Vons, posted fourth-quarter net earnings Thursday of $1.06 per share, 58 percent better than the year-ago figure of 67 cents and well ahead of analysts’ expectations of 75 cents.
Revenues climbed by 1.2 percent to $13.8 billion, in line with expectations of $13.75 billion.
Same-store sales improved by 0.8 percent and were partially offset by a 0.7 decline in pharmaceutical revenues due to a growing shift to generic drugs, and a 0.3 percent impact from a calendar shift. Fourth-quarter 2011 figures included New Year’s Eve sales while the 2012 quarter and year ended Dec. 29; had the calendars lined up, the2012 results would have been even higher.
For the full year, Safeway’s net profits soared to $2.40 per share ($596.5 million) from $1.49 per share ($516.7 million), helped in part by a $28.4 million after-tax gain from legal settlements.
Sales increased to $44.2 billion in 2012 from $43.6 billion in 2011, due mainly to increased fuel sales, higher gift and prepaid card sales and stronger same-store sales (up 0.5 percent on the year), the company said. Revenue gains were partially offset by costs associated with the closure of the company’s Genuardi chain in the eastern United States.
At year’s end, was operating 1,641 stores (including Vons) in the United States and Canada.