Ahold’s 3Q11 results will be released pre-market on Thursday 17 November, followed by a conference call at 2:00pm CET. Sales are expected to rise by 0.8% (consensus -0.2%) to € 6,748mor by 5.3% at identical exchange rates. The underlying retail EBIT margin (before Corporate Center costs) is set to fall from 4.7% to 4.5% (consensus 4.7%) due to higher low-margin fuel sales in the US and rising input prices on both sides of the ocean. EBIT is expected to fall slightly from € 285m in 3Q10 to € 281m in 3Q11. Net profits from continuing operations are expected to fall from € 239m to € 174m on the back of ICA’s net loss of SEK 2m. Unchanged Accumulate rating.
USA: final transition phase. We see identical store sales (excluding fuel) growing by 2.0% (in line with consensus) in 3Q11. This pace is similar to the 2.2% growth rate in 2Q11 if we exclude the -100bps Easter effect. Sales are set to rise by 6.0% (consensus +5.2%) to $ 5,645m. In 2Q11 the underlying EBIT margin was down 80bp, of which 20bps were due to the calendar impact. For 3Q11, we’ve pencilled in a margin of 3.7% (consensus 4.0%), representing a 10bp decline on the back of higher (low margin) fuel sales and some remaining input cost inflation. Former group CEO Kimberly Ross said that 3Q11 results will be dampened by costs of about € 10m related to the final phase of (9,09 EUR, -0,57%) USA’s transformation into a single organization. We see EBIT falling slightly from € 285m to € 281m.
The Netherlands: tough comparables. Identical store sales growth is expected to slow from 3.1% in 2Q11 (excl. Easter impact) to 2.5% in 3Q11 (consensus 2.4%) due to lousy weather in July and August. Moreover comparables are tough because identical store sales growth reached 4.5% in 3Q10. Sales are expected to rise by 4.0% (consensus +3.5%) to € 2,333m. The underlying EBIT margin should decline from 7.0% in 3Q10 to 6.4% (consensus 6.5%) in 3Q11. Note that the 3Q10 margin was exceptionally high on the back of strong sales growth. EBIT is expected to fall from € 156m to € 149m.
ICA: net loss due to impairment in Norway. Net sales rose by 2% to SEK 24,008m in 3Q11. Operating income excluding capital gains and impairments rose by 1% to SEK 947m but EBIT fell by 65% to SEK 330m due to a SEK 592mgoodwill impairment in Norway. EBIT fell by 11% in Sweden due to price investments and higher logistics costs. Excluding the impact of the impairment, ICA Norway’s operating loss came out lower compared to 3Q10. The SEK 237m tax charge implies a tax rate of 101%. Note that as of 4Q10 deferred tax assets are no longer booked on losses in ICA Norway.
C1000 about to be sold.Press reports suggest that five parties are still in the running: BC Partners, Bain Capital, Sligro, Jumbo and Edeka. Sperwer of the Plus supermarkets dropped out because its bid was too low. There is speculation however that Sperwer might make a new bid backed up by a private equity player. The disposal of C1000 might enable to acquire some of the C1000 stores from the new owner. Sligro’s CEO Koen Slippens has already indicated that C1000 as a whole could prove too large for Sligro.