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Albertsons’ Sales Growth Sustained by Higher Pricing, Covid-19 Vaccines

Supermarket companies such as Albertsons benefited from increased sales early in the pandemic as consumers switched to eating more meals at home.



Photo:

Ash Ponders/Bloomberg News

Sales and profit grew for

Albertsons

ACI -5.77%

Cos. Inc. in the latest quarter as the supermarket chain benefited from higher pricing and its pharmacies’ role in giving Covid-19 shots.

Albertsons’ results for the period, which ran through the first week of December, were stronger than analysts had forecast. The Boise, Idaho-based chain raised its guidance for the full year.

Revenue was up 8.6% year over year at $16.73 billion, ahead of the $16.06 billion that Wall Street had been expecting, according to FactSet. The company’s adjusted profit was 79 cents a share, outpacing expectations for 59 cents a share of earnings.

Identical sales, a metric that strips out the effects of store openings and closures, grew 5.2%. In addition to higher pricing, incremental sales related to Covid-19 vaccines also contributed to the growth.

Supermarket companies such as Albertsons benefited from surging sales early in the pandemic as consumers switched abruptly to eating more meals at home. Sales growth for Albertsons has leveled compared with the frenzied early months of the crisis, but identical sales in the latest quarter remained 18% higher than in the same stretch of 2019.

At Monday’s closing price of $31.90, Albertsons shares have more than doubled since the first trading day following the company’s June 2020 initial public offering, when shares closed at $15.45. The stock fell 1.4% in premarket trading on Tuesday.

Albertsons also lifted its outlook for the fiscal year that runs through February, projecting that identical sales will decline by between 0.8% and 1.2% this year. Given the steep comparison to shopping trends earlier in the pandemic, the company had previously forecast a decline by 2.5% to 3.5%.

The company said it is now expecting adjusted earnings of $2.90 a share to $2.95 a share in the February-ending year, up from previous guidance of $2.50 a share to $2.60.

Startups are promising to deliver groceries to your doorstep in minutes, stepping up competition in the industry. Their strategy: to operate out of “dark stores.” WSJ visits some of these hyperlocal warehouses to see how they operate and the challenges they face. Photo/Video: Michelle Inez Simon

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