Supervalu earnings swing to net loss

MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu reported a net loss of $11 million during its 2017 fiscal third quarter, ended Dec. 3. However, when backing out after-tax non-cash charges comprising a settlement charge, goodwill impairment charge and store closure charges and costs partially offset by a deferred income tax benefit, Supervalu would have earned a profit from continuing operations of $14 million.

Net earnings from continuing operations in in 2016’s fiscal Q3 came in at $16 million, which included $6 million in after-tax costs related to asset impairment charges, employee severance and store closure charges and costs.

Supervalu completed the sale of its Sav-A-Lot business on Dec. 6 — after its Q3 ended — and presented Sav-A-Lot results as discontinued operations.

“The successful sale of Save-A-Lot early in the fourth quarter provides Supervalu with additional flexibility to operate and grow our business,” said President and CEO Mark Gross. “Additionally, our wholesale team has done a tremendous job delivering for our customers. It is a significant accomplishment that we increased wholesale sales compared to last year given the sales lost at the end of fiscal 2016. Unfortunately, in our retail segment we have not been able to overcome persistent deflation, competitive impacts, and other factors. It takes time to change customers’ shopping habits, but our team is dedicated to improving our results."

Added Chief Operating Officer and CFO Bruce Besanko: “Early in the fourth quarter we used the majority of the proceeds from the sale of Save-A-Lot to reduce our outstanding debt by approximately $1.1 billion. We have also taken steps to reduce our pension plan obligations through a successful lump-sum buyout of certain plan participants that resulted in the pension settlement charge this quarter. In addition, we made a $25 million cash contribution to the pension plan. Given the many moving parts from the sale of Save-A-Lot, we are managing the business for the next several quarters by reference to pro forma adjusted EBITDA. For the third quarter, pro forma adjusted EBITDA was $114 million$18 million less than last year’s third quarter, reflecting the challenging operating environment across the grocery industry.”

Third quarter net sales for Supervalu’s most recent quarter came in at $3 billion, a 1.4% year-over year decrease. Gross profit for the third quarter was $407 million, or 13.6 percent of net sales, compared to $436 million and 14.3 percent of net sales, respectively.

At Supervalu’s retail division, 2017 Q3 sales came in at $1.06 billion, a decrease of 3.4%. Same-store sales of negative 5.7% were attributed for the decline.

Retail operating loss in 2017 Q3 was $14 million, or negative 1.3% of net sales and included a $15 million goodwill charge and $1 million of store closure charges and costs. When adjusting for these items, retail operating earnings were $2 million, or 0.2% of net sales. Retail operating earnings in Supervalu’s 2016 Q3 were $21 million, or 2% of net sales, which included $1 million of store closure charges and costs. When factoring this charge in, retail operating earnings in 2016’s Q3 were $22 million.

Supervalu attributed lower sales and higher employee costs partially offset by acquired and new stores for the decrease in retail operating earnings. 

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