ALBERTSONS LOWERS EARNINGS GUIDANCE

BOISE, Idaho -- Albertsons here said it has lowered its guidance on earnings per share from continuing operations to the range of $1.29 to $1.31 per share for the year ended Feb. 3.said it expects comparable-store sales for the fiscal year to be slightly positive and identical-store sales for the year to be slightly negative. Albertsons is scheduled to report full financial results on March 15.The

BOISE, Idaho -- Albertsons here said it has lowered its guidance on earnings per share from continuing operations to the range of $1.29 to $1.31 per share for the year ended Feb. 3.

said it expects comparable-store sales for the fiscal year to be slightly positive and identical-store sales for the year to be slightly negative. Albertsons is scheduled to report full financial results on March 15.

The company said the change in earnings guidance reflects the impact of the series of hurricanes that hit the southeastern United States in 2004, which cut earnings by 4 cents per share, and the impact of a non-cash lease expense correction prompted by an accounting review following views expressed by the chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under the adjusted accounting procedure, lease expenses will commence on the date of the first rent payment, or the date of possession of the leased property, whichever comes first. Safeway disclosed a similar change in its accounting procedures a few days before Albertsons.

Albertsons said sales and earnings for the quarter were impacted by several factors, including ratification bonus payments it made at the time of contract settlements in Las Vegas and two regions of Northern California; higher-than-anticipated promotional investments in Southern California and other divisions; a weaker-than-expected flu season, which had a negative impact on pharmacy and over-the-counter business; and the absence of the Super Bowl in the fourth quarter.