Delhaize sent out a press release ahead of the analyst meeting today in the US.
Accelerating store openings in newer operations
Delhaize expects to open approximately 450 stores in its newer operations in the three year period 2012-2014. The newer operations include Southeastern Europe and Asia and new store formats (Bottom Dollar Food in the US and Red Market in Europe). With the recent acquisition of Delta Maxi, the group has further strengthened its base in countries that provide significant potential for growth. Additionally, the encouraging results of Bottom Dollar Food in the Philadelphia market support plans for expansion in additional markets that present the same growth profile. This will include hundreds of new Bottom Dollar Food stores over the next five years. The announced store opening program represents a significant acceleration because between 2004 and 2010 Delhaize's store count increased from 2,565 to 2,800 or by 39 annually. Delhaize expects to generate revenue growth of 5 to 7% annually within three years.
Expecting to exceed € 500m (by end 2012) cost savings target
As of the end of the second quarter of 2Q11, halfway through the three year period to generate EUR 500 million in annual gross cost savings, Delhaize had realized already approximately 60% of this target. Today, Delhaize expects to exceed this target, mainly due to increased savings in cost of goods sold, which will enable it to invest more in sales building initiatives should the economic and competitive environment require it do to so.
The group is clearly stepping up its exposure to markets and store formats with higher growth potential. We estimate that Southeastern Europe and Asia will represent at least 15% of group sales in 2012 compared to 9% in 2010. The balance sheet is still strong despite the Delta Maxi acquisition. Net debt/equity reached 50% at the end of September 2011. We maintain our Accumulate rating. The stock is very cheap but the two major banners of the group are still facing challenges. Delhaize Belgium has lost market share (-67bps y/y) in the first 9 months of the year and we estimate that the volume trend was still negative in 3Q11 at Food Lion.