Safeway profit up, helped by loyalty programs

Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:18am EST

Feb 21 (Reuters) - Safeway Inc, the second-largest U.S. supermarket chain, on Thursday reported higher profit, helped by its new shopper loyalty programs.

The operator of supermarkets such as Safeway, Vons and Dominick's said fourth-quarter income from continuing operations was $244 million, or $1.06 per share, up from $215.6 million, or 67 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding gains from legal settlements, the company earned 94 cents per share in the latest quarter.

Quarterly sales $13.77 billion from $13.60 billion a year ago. Closely watched identical-store sales, excluding fuel, were up 0.8 percent.

Safeway has been rolling out grocery and gasoline loyalty programs to attract customers and boost sales. Traditional grocers such as Safeway and Kroger Co face tough competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc and other retailers and are fighting for every sale.