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Supervalu Loss Widens, Shares Skid

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Grocery store operator Supervalu Inc. said Wednesday that its fiscal third-quarter net loss widened due to costs related to a turnaround plan, continued high food prices and a cautious consumer.

The company, which operates Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and other supermarkets, trimmed its yearly sales guidance for the second quarter in a row and shares fell more than 10 percent in morning trading.

Supervalu, like most grocers, is trying to raise prices to offset high food costs without alienating shoppers that have cut spending due to worry over the economy and high unemployment. Supervalu is also facing costs related to a restructuring plan, begun well over a year ago, which has involved closing stores, selling off some businesses, lowering debt and tailoring its stores to meet local needs.

“Even with the ongoing difficult economic environment and pressured consumer, we continued to make progress against our plan,” said CEO Craig Herkert.

Still, the company lowered its yearly sales guidance to $36.1 billion from prior guidance of $36.5 billion. Analysts expect revenue of $36.44 billion, according to Fact Set. It reaffirmed adjusted profit guidance of $1.20 to $1.30 per share. Analysts expect $1.24 per share.

For the three months ended Dec. 3, Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu says its net loss totaled $750 million, or $3.54 per share, in the three months ended Dec. 3. That compares to a loss of $202 million, or 95 cents per share, last year.

Excluding unusual costs, it earned 24 cents per share. That was a penny shy of analysts’ expectations, according to a survey by FactSet.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $8.33 billion from $8.67 billion last year. Analysts expected revenue of $8.22 billion.

Shares fell 86 cents, or 10.3 percent, to $7.53 in morning trading. It shares had risen 34 percent through Tuesday’s closing from its 52-week low of $6.26 in early October. They peaked for the year at $11.77 per share in early May.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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