Ahold 1st quarter 2002 net earnings up 3.8% to Euro 328.0 million

Ahold, the international food retailer and foodservice operator, today announced a 3.8% rise in first quarter 2002 net earnings (first 16 weeks of the year through April 21, 2002) to Euro 328.0 million (2001: Euro 316.0 million).

Remarks by Cees van der Hoeven, Ahold President & CEO
‘Growth of net earnings and earnings per share excluding goodwill amortization and currency impact in the first quarter of 2002 was obviously below our usual standard but in line with expectations,’ said Ahold President & CEO Cees van der Hoeven.

‘It is largely the result of significant backloading towards the latter half of the year of earnings growth at BI-LO, and in Portugal and Spain, as well as other gains in the first quarter of 2001. On a pro forma basis, reflecting the true comparison of operating strength, net earnings increased by 22% and earnings per share by 10%. By all accounts, the core business continued to perform very well. U.S. Retail, U.S. Foodservice and our large companies in Europe and Latin America all showed substantial sales and earnings growth. Since other companies are catching up, we expect to significantly surpass last year’s numbers in the second half of 2002. As an early sign of recently introduced EVA programs, our capital efficiency improved compared to 2001.’

Sales and earnings in the first quarter were positively impacted by the higher average exchange rate of the U.S. dollar (Euro 1 = USD 0.88 vs. Euro 1 = USD 0.92 last year). This effect is partly offset by the devaluation of the Argentine Peso (ARS 1 = Euro 0.53 vs. ARS 1 = Euro 1.09 last year).

Consolidated sales rose 22.1% to Euro 22.2 billion. Excluding currency fluctuations, organic sales growth amounted to 5.5%. Operating earnings totaled Euro 866.3 million, representing an increase of 21.8%.

Net earnings increased 3.8% to Euro 328.0 million. Net earnings growth was substantially lower than operating earnings growth, mostly due to higher amortization of goodwill (Euro 38.4 million) and higher net financial expense (Euro 83.4 million).

Cash flow from operating activities amounted to Euro 582.6 million (2001: Euro 62.2 million). Investments in tangible and intangible fixed assets amounted to Euro 698.2 million (2001: Euro 579.2 million).

For more information please visit www.ahold.com.

(source: Ahold)

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