Supermarket group Ahold lifted by better than expected results

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FILE PHOTO: The Ahold Delhaize logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Zaandam

By Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM – Supermarket group Ahold Delhaize increased its full-year guidance after posting better than expected quarterly results on Wednesday, sending its shares up 7%.

The company, which operates the Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion and Hannaford chains on the U.S. east coast, also announced the postponement of a planned initial public offering (IPO) of non-food retailer Bol.com, citing weak equity markets.

Second-quarter underlying operating income of 880 million euros ($898 million) beat an 815 million euro estimate in the company’s poll of 16 analysts, Ahold said.

Sales rose by 15% to 21.4 billion euros ($21.85 billion), in line with the company-compiled analyst consensus.

The bulk of Ahold’s business is in the United States, where second-quarter earnings were boosted by a stronger dollar and 7.7% sales growth.

Across the board “we have beaten consensus, but of course the lead is with a very strong U.S. business”, said Chief Executive Frans Muller.

The company nudged up its full-year earnings per share outlook for the second time this year. It now expects “mid-single-digit growth” from 2021 levels. It had increased its forecast in May from a small percentage decline to flat.

KBC Securities expects analysts to increase earnings forecasts for Ahold after what it said was “a very nice set of results, beating estimates across the board”.

Ahold had planned to list Bol.com in the second half of the year, but on Wednesday said it would revisit the plans when equity market conditions are “more conducive”.

Net consumer online sales at Bol.com declined by 2.1% in the quarter, Ahold said, having jumped 24.2% in the same period last year when e-commerce was boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

($1 = 0.9794 euros)

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Goodman)

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