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.

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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.