US supermarket firm Supervalu has reported lower net earnings for the second quarter of fiscal 2006, hit by after-tax charges of around US$45m related to the plan to sell 20 Pittsburgh stores, start-up costs related to growth initiatives and the losses incurred from Hurricane Katrina.

For the second quarter to 10 September 2005, the company reported net earnings of $33.8m, or 24 cents per share, compared to $78.5m, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier. Net sales were $4.6bn compared to $4.5bn in last year’s second quarter.

“We are pleased that when excluding the charges in the quarter, we matched last year’s record second quarter earnings per share performance, despite the soft sales environment. As the impact of higher fuel prices continues to unfold across the consumer spending landscape, we are refining our merchandising programmes across our network to improve sales performance,” said chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Noddle.