Retailer Ahold has announced a loss for the third quarter of 2005, because of the effect of the securities class act settlement announced earlier this week.

The company made a net loss of EUR239m (US$282m) during the third quarter, compared with a net loss of EUR134m during the same period last year.

Net sales for the third quarter were EUR2.100bn, compared with EUR2.067bn a year ago.

For the year to date the net loss was EUR44m, compared with a net profit of EUR666m last year. Year to date net sales were EUR33.664bn, compared with EUR33.815bn last year.

Excluding the effect of the settlement Ahold delivered increases in net sales, operating income and net income despite a challenging competitive environment and higher energy prices, the company said. Operating income, excluding settlement effect, rose to EUR 258m on third-quarter net sales of EUR 10.2bn due to higher gross margins and lower operating expenses. 

Net income, excluding settlement effect increased to EUR346m compared to a loss of EUR134m in the third quarter of last year as the effects of 2004 impairment charges and one off items subsided and efforts to reduce net debt and improve borrowing terms paid off.

“The settlement of the securities class action allows Ahold to move forward in focus intensely on its business and future strategy,” said Anders Moberg, Ahold’s president and chief executive officer.” “Excluding the effect of the settlement, our performance improved this quarter despite the fact that the retail environment remains challenging.”