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ID NEWS: Ahold says break-even result or loss at USF is possible for 2003

Royal Ahold, Zaandam, The Netherlands, told analysts that it does not exclude a 2003 break-even result or a loss for its Columbia, MD-based U.S. Foodservice (USF) subsidiary.

Ahold released third-quarter results yesterday (ID Report 10/29/03). Net sales at USF increased 5.9% to $4.3 billion for the quarter, ended October 5, as compared with $4.0 billion for the equivalent 2002 period. The increase was partially achieved through "low-margin" business. Acquisitions of Allen Foods, St. Louis, and Lady Baltimore, Kansas City, contributed approximately 2% to growth.

"We issued the third-quarter trading update yesterday and we did include a reference to lower margin business at U.S. Foodservice," a spokesman said, as reported by Reuters. "When asked by analysts, we indicated that we did not exclude a break-even result."

Nor could Ahold exclude the possibility of a loss for the year, he added.

Ahold will report first-half results on November 7. Margin squeeze, particularly at USF, is expected to impact the international giant's 2003 operating income.
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