US retailer Safeway Inc ended its financial year with an acceleration in underlying sales growth in the final quarter and earnings per share that beat analyst forecasts.

Safeway reported an 0.8% rise in identical-store sales, excluding fuel, for the fourth quarter, which ended on 29 December. For the year as a whole, identical-store sales without fuel were up 0.5%.

The retailer said it had gained market share in its core supermarket channel and across all its outlets. Volumes also bucked a downward trend in the market, up 0.3%.

Underlying earnings per share for the quarter were $0.94, compared to a consensus forecast on Wall Street of $0.77. Net income and operating profit rose in the quarter higher sales offset investment in price. Safeway’s top line increased 1.2% to $13.77bn.

Over the year, net income increased, although operating profit fell. The annual sales increase was not enough to offset the spending Safeway made in price.