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Safeway announces its Q3 earnings for 2008

BY Jenna Duncan

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway today reported a net income total of $199.7 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for 2008’s third quarter. This total compares to its net income for the same time 2007, $194.6 million, or $0.44 per diluted share.

Safeway said that its total sales were up by 3.9 percent, totaling $10.2 billion for the third quarter 2008, up from last year’s third quarter total of $9.8 billion. The company said that the rise was caused by profits from Safeway’s Lifestyle stores as well as an increase in fuel prices. Same-store sales were up 2.8 percent with fuel (0.5 percent not considering fuel).

“During the third quarter we took action to provide our customers with better everyday values,” chairman, chief executive officer and presiden, Steve Burd, said in a statement. “As we begin the fourth quarter, our sales momentum is building, with identical-store sales (excluding fuel) currently above 1.5 percent, and we are continuing to reduce costs. We continue to believe our diluted earnings per share for 2008 will be in the range of $2.25 to $2.35 for this 53-week year.”

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Del Monte sells its seafood business to Korean food company

BY Jenna Duncan

SAN FRANCISCO Del Monte Foods Company Tuesday announced that it has completed the sale of its seafood business, including popular canned tuna brand StarKist, to Dongwon Industries for nearly $359 million. The total buyout price including considerations for the business’ estimate of working capital which had not yet been totaled and finalized.

“The divestiture of StarKist improves Del Monte’s margin structure, eliminates a source of earnings volatility and reduces debt leverage,” Rick Wolford, chairman and chief executive officer of Del Monte Foods said. “This sale also increases Del Monte’s focus on faster growing, value-added, higher margin branded businesses, a key component of our accelerated growth plan.”

Included in the sale of Del Monte’s seafood business are manufacturing operations in American Samoa and Manta, Ecuador. Also rolled into the sale, StarKist seafood assets in Terminal Island, California and Guayaquil, Ecuador. Del Monte has said that its seafood business plant personnel have now joined Dongwon, as well.

Dongwon Industries has most of its business in fishing—about 28 percent of its Korean market comes from fish suppliers. More information about the company can be viewed at www.dwml.co.kr.

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Mars releases laundry list of candy, salty snacks, chocolate bar launches

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Mars Snackfood this week at the National Association of Convenience Stores Show at McCormick Place has announced a lineup of snack products to be launched this fall and winter.

Mars has announced the upcoming launches of spicy jalapeno cheddar tortilla-flavored Combos.  For the candy category, Mars will be releasing Dove Promises Changemakers bite-sized milk chocolate and rich dark chocolate candies. Dove is also extending its line with Dove Chocolate Large Bars in flavors creamy cappuccino and mandarin orange. New Snickers Fun-Size Changemakers, with caramel, milk chocolate nougat and nougat will also hit shelves by the winter season.

In the sugar-candy category, Mars adds Skittles Crazy Cores, Starburst FaveReds flavored like cherry, fruit punch, strawberry and watermelon and Starburst Sour Gummibursts with flavors green apple, watermelon, strawberry and orange tangerine.

To boost sales of its wide variety of chocolates and snack products, Mars has a number of promotions lined up for fall and winter. M&M’s will get special packaging featuring Ms. Green, the alluring, romantic, female M&M character, in time for Valentine’s Day.And for the Super Bowl, Snickers will get special packaging treatment, along with tie-ins to a fantasy sweepstakes game which will award 17 trips to the Super Bowl, as well as chances for several secondary prizes. Mars has also announced that 3 Musketeers candy bars will be the official candy bars of the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2008 celebration and will get special treatment on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve celebration show.

Though times are tough in the current cash-poor consumer economy, items such as candy are still seeing strong sales, Mars said. For example, data released by market research firm Information Resources Inc. showed that chocolate sales in convenience sales were up 4.1 percent for the 52-week period ended Aug. 10. Mars Snackfood said that sales of its chocolate candies increased 9.1 percent for the same time in that channel.

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