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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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Mars successfully completes acquisition of Wrigley

BY Jenna Duncan

MCLEAN, Va. Mars Inc. Monday announced the completion of its acquition of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Mars has purchased all shares of Wrigley’s common stock as well as Class B common stock shares for $80 each in cash, a total of about $23 billion, the company said.

“We are excited to welcome Wrigley and its associates to our team,” Paul Michaels, president and chief executive officer of Mars, Inc. said in a press release “Mars and Wrigley share a culture of innovation, quality and integrity, as well as a focus on providing consumers with great-tasting products. The combination of our two strong international businesses, with best-in-class global brands, also creates one of the world’s leading confectionery companies.”

Mars, Inc. said that the Wrigley Company will remain a separate business keeping its headquarters in Chicago, but will operate as a subsidiary of Mars. Mars also plans to move its global non-chocolate confectionery brands to the Wrigley business, including such candies as Skittles, Starburst, Tunes and Rondo, as well as moving production from sites in Czech Republic, Mexico and other countries.

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Makers of artificial sweeteners upgrade textures to better mimic sugar

BY Jenna Duncan

LAKELAND, Fla. Producers of sweetening alternatives have been making greater strides as of late to assure that their products can imitate the melt-in-your-mouth texture of natural sugar, Internet reports said.

One example is Taste Advantage, a company that manufactures flavorings for alcoholic and ready-to-drink beverages. Taste Advantage has told reporters that its goal is to recreate the weight and texture that consumers of artificial sweeteners often have said they miss about sugar.

The company has been working on a closer-to-sugar sugar alternative for about two to three, reports said. Users have also reported that some sweeteners, have bitter or burning-like aftertastes, another dilemma for sweetener development.

Representatives from Taste Advantage have said that within the year they are set to release new, naturally-derived sweeteners that will more closely resemble the taste, texture and weight of real sugar.

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