Ahold sales strong in Q1

Supermarket operator quadruples share-buyback program

AMSTERDAM — Royal Ahold is quadrupling the size of its share-buyback program amid strong first-quarter 2013 sales and the sale of its majority stake in a supermarket chain, the Netherlands-based supermarket operator said Tuesday.

Ahold reported U.S. sales of $8.1 billion, a 3.4% increase over first-quarter 2012, the result of strong same-store sales and the benefit of 15 former Genuardi stores in the Philadelphia area that it bought from Safeway last year. Those stores are now part of Ahold's Giant-Carlisle division. The company also reported a negative effect on sales from increased sales of generic drugs, offset by the timing of New Year's Eve.

Sales for the company overall were $13.2 billion, compared with $12.7 billion during the same period last year. The company also benefited from the $3.05 million sale of its 60% stake in Swedish chain ICA to Hakon Invest, announced in February.

In light of the results, Ahold said it would increase the $653.8 million share-buyback program announced in February to $2.6 billion. So far, the company has repurchased $79.8 million worth of shares and plans to complete the program by the end of next year.

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