Dutch supermarkets and eCommerce company Ahold Delhaize N.V. (ADRND.PK,AHODF.PK) reported Wednesday that its third-quarter net income plunged 84.9 percent to 68 million euros from last year’s 453 million euros. Earnings per share were 0.06 euro, down 84.4 percent from 0.41 euro last year.
The results were down primarily due to a previously announced 577 million euros provision for a U.S. pension plan withdrawal.
Underlying income from continuing operations was 530 million euros, up 8.6 percent. Underlying earnings per share were 0.50 euro, compared to 0.44 euro last year.
Group net sales grew 6.8 percent to 17.83 billion euros from prior year’s 16.69 billion euros. Sales increased 10.1 percent at constant exchange rates, driven largely by 10.5 percent comparable sales growth excluding gasoline. Group comparable sales were mainly driven by demand related to COVID-19.
In the U.S. and Europe, comp sales growth excluding gas was up 12.4 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.
Net consumer online sales grew 62.6 percent at constant exchange rates, including 114.7 percent growth in the U.S.
Looking ahead for fiscal 2020, the company raised guidance for underlying earnings per share, and now expects growth in high-20 percent range, compared to low-to-mid-20 percent growth expected earlier.
Underlying operating margin in 2020 is still expected to be higher than 2019.
The company will reach its 7 billion euros net consumer online sales goal in 2020, one year ahead of plan.
Separately, Ahold Delhaize announced the authorization of a new 1 billion euros share buyback program, to start at the beginning of 2021.
The purpose of the share buyback program is to reduce the capital, by canceling all or part of the common shares acquired through the program.
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