Mixed 2012 results for Ahold

Mixed 2012 results for Ahold

Ahold today (28 February) booked mixed profit figures for 2012, with pension charges and IT costs hitting reported earnings but underlying results improved on 2011.

The Dutch retail giant posted net income of EUR827m (US$1.09bn) for 2012, down 18.7% on a year earlier. The company's operating income fell 11.9% to EUR1.19bn.

Ahold ran up EUR88m of pension costs in Europe and the US last year. It also filed a write-down of EUR88m from a software project it halted.

Underlying operating income was up 2.8% at EUR1.41bn. Ahold reported higher underlying operating income in the US, although it dipped in the Netherlands.

Ahold posted its 2012 sales last month. Sales increased 8.5% last year, or by 3.5% on a constant-currency basis. In the US, its identical-store sales were up 1.4%. Excluding fuel, identical-store sales inched up 0.5%. In the Netherlands, identical-store sales increased 1% last year.

Alongside the profit numbers today, Ahold announced plans to buy back EUR500m woth of shares. The retailer's use of cash is being closely watched; earlier this month, it signed a deal to sell its 60% stake in Sweden-based retailer ICA for SEK20bn. Ahold has been reported to be interested in regional US retailer Harris Teeter, although it has refused to comment.