BOISE, Idaho – Albertson’s Inc., the nation’s second-largest supermarket chain, said Tuesday its profit in the fourth quarter declined 17 percent, weighed down by charges. For the quarter ended Feb. 2, net income fell to $162 million, or 43 cents per share, from $194 million, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier. Earnings in the latest quarter included 9 cents per share in charges, compared with 2 cents per share in the year-ago period. Quarterly sales fell 9 percent to $10.23 billion, as sales in stores open at least a year dipped 0.3 percent. Excluding unusual items and discontinued operations, income grew to $200 million, or 54 cents per share, from $194 million, or 52 cents per share. On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had on average forecast profit of 45 cents per share on $10.49 billion in revenue. The company’s latest fiscal quarter contained 13 weeks, one week fewer than a year earlier. Albertson’s Chief Financial Officer Felicia Thornton said fiscal 2005 earnings were reduced by the Gulf Coast hurricanes, changes to the way the company accounts for early payment discounts when buying merchandise and costs associated with the company’s solicitation of bidders to purchase the chain. On Jan. 23, an investment group led by Minneapolis-based Supervalu and drugstore chain CVS Corp. agreed, after a failed attempt a year earlier, to buy Albertson’s for $9.7 billion in cash and stock. Albertson’s stockholders will get about $26.29 in cash and Supervalu stock for each Albertson’s share, while the buyers assume about $7.7 billion in debt. “We continue to move toward a successful conclusion to the sale of the company, with an expected closing date of mid-2006,” said Albertson’s President and CEO Larry Johnston in a prerecorded statement by company officials. “We are working closely and collaboratively with the buyers and have created strong integration planning teams in order to drive a successful transition for each of them.” Albertson’s shares rose 6 cents to close at $25.50 on the New York Stock Exchange, while Supervalu shares rose 30 cents, or 1 percent, to $31.57 and CVS shares rose 45 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $28.92. Annual sales were $40.4 billion for the fiscal year compared with $39.8 billion in 2004. Sales continued to lag in the company’s non-grocery and non-pharmacy divisions and subsidiaries. The chain includes Albertsons, Acme, Shaw’s, Jewel-Osco, Sav-on Drugs, Osco Drug and Star Market, plus the independently operated Bristol Farms and Super Saver stores. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!