Sold food store Albertsons has bowed out of 2005 with total yearly sales of US$40.4bn compared to $39.8bn last year and a comparable store sales increase of 0.4%.

In January this year a consortium consisting of Supervalu, CVS Corporation and an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management agreed to acquire the food and drug stores group for US$17.4bn.

The company said the transaction is subject to approval by Albertsons and Supervalu shareholders as well as customary regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in mid-2006.

The company's 2005 annual and fourth quarter results included one less week compared to 2004.

Net earnings for the full year reached $462m and after adjustment for unusual items, earnings from continuing operations were at $513m - within the company's previously issued guidance range.

Earnings from continuing operations were negatively impacted by the three hurricanes that hit Louisiana, Texas and Florida earlier this year.

Fourth quarter net earnings totalled $164m, negatively impacted by the company's exploration of strategic alternatives and a change in method for reflecting early payment discounts related to merchandise purchases.

Total sales during the fourth quarter of 2005 were $10.2bn, down from $11.1bn in the fourth quarter of last year. Total comparable store sales decreased 0.3% for the quarter, compared to the same period last year.

Albertsons said in a statement that in terms of the cost savings programme it first initiated in mid-2001 it has "exceeded its goal of reducing costs by $1.25bn, a full year ahead of schedule. For the full program, $1.26bn in savings has now been achieved, including $103m during the fourth quarter."

For the full year, 56 new Albertsons stores were opened, 88 were closed and 138 remodels were completed. A total of 2,471 stores were open at the end of the year.