Ahold Shares Jump as Fourth-Quarter Sales Beat Estimates

  • Gain in retailer's stock is the steepest since Dec. 15
  • Sales provide boost as grocer seeks to complete Delhaize deal

Royal Ahold NV shares jumped the most in a month after the Dutch retailer’s quarterly sales beat estimates on the back of growth in the U.S. and the Netherlands.

The stock advanced as much as 3.8 percent to 19.06 euros in Amsterdam, the steepest intraday gain since Dec. 15.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 21 percent to 9.79 billion euros ($10.7 billion), compared with the 9.40 billion-euro average estimate compiled by Bloomberg. The performance provides a boost for the Zaandam, Netherlands-based company as it seeks to complete the takeover of Belgium’s Delhaize Group, a deal it announced in June.

The Delhaize deal will give the company more than 4 percent of grocery spending in the U.S., where Ahold’s chains include Stop & Shop. Cheaper prices and a better produce selection in the U.S. are helping attract customers in the face of increased competition from retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Ahold in July agreed to acquire 25 A&P stores in New York for $146 million.

“It’s purely autonomous growth, though adding the A&P stores did also help,” Alan Vandenberghe, an analyst at KBC Securities, said by phone, adding that the figures support the business case for the acquisition of Delhaize.

Online retail, which represents about 5 percent of revenue, rose 38 percent to 484 million euros.

Ahold is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on March 3.

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