US retailer Safeway Inc has forecast financial results for 2013 ahead of Wall Street expectations.

In a statement yesterday (6 March), the US grocer said it expects earnings of US$2.25 to $2.45 per share for 2013. That comes in above Wall Street expectations of $2.24.

Safeway said it also expects identical-store sales growth in the range of 2-3% and free cash flow in the range of $0.85bn to $0.95bn. Operating profit margin is expected to be “flat to positive ten basis points”, it said.

“We made progress in 2012 on a number of initiatives, which we believe helped achieve market share gains and positive volume in the US. As we move forward, [loyalty scheme] just for U, fuel partnerships with Chevron and ExxonMobil, innovation in-store and in private label, as well as growth in Blackhawk and PDC should drive continued positive momentum,” said chairman and CEO Steve Burd.

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