TORONTO — Convinced that low pricing is driving improvements in same-store sales and volumes at its superstore and discount divisions, Loblaw Cos. here said it would will bring its price-investment strategies to conventional banners in 2008. Company officials acknowledged Thursday that the pricing strategy would likely keep pressure on earnings through the first half of the year, but that Loblaw could protect margins by paying for the investments with corporate cost reductions. Loblaw on Thursday reported a net profit of $39.5 million for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Dec. 30, vs. a $756 million loss in the same period a year ago. Sales of $6.9 billion (U.S.) improved by 2.7% while comparable-store sales increased by 2.6%, while operating margins fell to 3.3% from 4.4% a year ago.
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