Safeway raises expectations for 2012

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway is projecting that 2012 will be a good year for the retailer.

The company said ahead of an investor conference held Tuesday that it forecasts earnings per share will be in the range of $1.90 to $2.10 per diluted share. This compared with net income of $1.49 per diluted share in fiscal 2011, due to a tax charge 29 cents per diluted share. Excluding the charge, diluted earnings per share would have been $1.78 in fiscal 2011.

"We made progress in 2011 on a number of initiatives. We built out an internal technology platform for our digital marketing program, just for U; we continued to achieve significant cost reduction; we maintained price parity; our consumer brands team created another $100 million brand with Open Nature; Blackhawk delivered another year of double-digit growth and we returned $1.7 billion in cash to shareholders," Safeway chairman, president and CEO Steve Burd said. "With 87% of our store base remodeled into Lifestyle stores, we believe we have the freshest asset base in the supermarket industry. When you combine all this with our differentiated offering, we believe we are very well positioned for future growth."

In late February, Safeway reported that overall sales for 2011 were up 6.3% and identical-store sales, including fuel, were up 4.4% for the year.