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    Albertson's Posts Huge Losses

    Closing 157 supermarkets, gas stations cost the supermarket operator $454 million.

    BOISE, Idaho -- Albertson's, one of the nation's largest supermarket chains, reported it had a first-quarter loss after spending $454 million to close 157 stores and gas stations and increasing promotions to compete with rivals.

    The net loss for the period, which ended May 2, was $81 million compared with net income of $186 million a year earlier, Albertson's said. The company, which operates Jewel-Osco, Acme and Sav-on Drugs stores raised its forecast for full-year profit, excluding restructuring and other costs, to $2.31 a share from $2.28 a share.

    Sales in stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent as Albertson's lowered prices to compete with rivals like Wal-Mart Stores and the Kroger Company. Chief executive Lawrence Johnston said about 90 percent of 340 closings or sales had been completed as part of the company's plan to cut expenses.

    Sales fell to $8.92 billion from $8.99 billion as the company closed 130 stores and 27 gas stations.

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