The top US wholesale food distributor, Fleming, has cut its fourth-quarter earnings outlook due to weak sales, higher meat prices and employee costs.

The Texas-based company no expects to post fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations of US$5m to $6m, or 10 cents to 12 cents per share, on sales of around $4.08bn. Analysts polled by Thompson First Call had forecast earnings of 31 cents per share on revenue of $3.98bn.

Fleming also announced a charge of around $116m for discontinued operations relating to the pending sale of some retail operations. The company has signed agreements to sell 32 of its discount warehouse grocery stores to Save Mart Supermarkets.

The company said that its revenue is likely to fall further due to plans by Kmart, which is Fleming's single largest customer, to close more of its stores, reported AP Online.