Staff reductions, poor food sales hurt Supervalu in Q4

MINNEAPOLIS  — Costs related to workforce reduction contributed to $424 million, or $2 per diluted share loss, at Supervalu for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2012. For the quarter, net sales were $8.2 billion. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011, the company reported net sales of $8.7 billion and net earnings of $95 million or 44 cents per diluted share.

Craig Herkert, Supervalu's CEO and president, said, “I am pleased with the launch of our business transformation this year and the initial results from that strategy which helped us deliver our adjusted earnings results of $1.25 for fiscal 2012. Our disciplined approach to pre-funding price investments is allowing us to invest across markets, categories and items. We remain focused on delivering improved value for our customers and meeting the specific needs of each community we serve.”

Identical-store sales for the quarter were down 1.9%, which contributed to a decline in net food sales to $6.4 billion from $6.7 billion last year. The company noted that previously announced store closures and the sale of fuel centers also contributed to the decline in food sales. Total retail square footage was 63.7 million, a 0.4% decrease from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. 

For the full year, net sales were $36.1 billion compared with net sales of $37.5 billion for the same period 2011. Supervalu reported a full year net loss of $1.04 billion, or $4.91 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $1.5 billion, or $7.13 per diluted share, for the same period last year.

In addressing guidance, Herkert commented, “We are committed to fair price plus promotions and will intensify our efforts as we enter the second year of our business transformation. As we move into fiscal 2013, we see another year of improving identical store sales and will continue to take appropriate steps to deliver greater value to our customers and move closer to becoming America’s Neighborhood Grocer."

The company expects to generate fiscal 2013 earnings per diluted share on a GAAP basis within a range of $1.27 to $1.42.