NEW YORK — Safeway is positioned to boost earnings by more than 50% in the next few years, to as much as $3.07 per share by 2011, compared with $1.99 in 2007, Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said yesterday during a presentation here to the Retail, Restaurant & Consumer Conference sponsored by Bear Stearns. He also said Safeway plans to have its first "experimental format" store — a smaller format of approximately 20,000 square feet, according to reports — "up and running in May. And although it's an experiment, we are feeling increasingly good about how it might perform," he said. In his presentation Burd defended the chain's fourth-quarter results reported late last month, blaming “the popular press” and the Internet for “confusion” that resulted in a 7% drop in the chain's stock price the day the numbers were disclosed. "Don't lump us with the rest of retail and believe retail will suffer if the consumer is cautious," Burd said. "We are a very resilient sector, and Safeway is a very resourceful company within that sector."
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