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AMERICAN STORES CO. ANNOUNCES FISCAL YEAR RESULTS; ALSO ANNOUNCES PROGRAM TO REPURCHASE UP TO 2 MILLION SHARES

 SALT LAKE CITY, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- American Stores Co. (NYSE: ASC) today announced net earnings for its 1992 fiscal year ended Jan. 30, 1993, of $206.4 million, or $2.94 per common share, compared to $199.4 million, or $2.88 per common share, in 1991. Earnings before non-recurring items in 1992 were $3.14 per common share, an increase of 12.9 percent over 1991's $2.78 per common share.
 Separately, the company announced a stock repurchase program for up to 2 million shares of its common stock.
 American Stores Co.'s 1992 results include a non-recurring loss of approximately $0.20 per common share on the sale of 74 Jewel Osco combination food and drug stores. The 1991 net earnings incorporated several non-recurring items, including net gains on the sale of assets, primarily Alpha Beta; a charge for the early adoption of SFAS No. 106, "Employers' Accounting for Postretirement Benefits Other than Pensions"; and an accrual for litigation related to the 1985 salmonella incident.
 Net earnings for the fourth quarter of 1992 were $1.33 per common share, up from 1991's $1.15 per common share before non-recurring items.
 Total sales from ongoing operations in 1992 were $18.8 billion, compared to $18.6 billion in the prior year. Like-stores sales, or sales from stores that have been open at least one year, decreased approximately one-half of 1 percent. Total sales were $19.1 billion for the year and $20.8 billion for the prior year. Year-to-year sales declined because of disposed operations, which included the California Alpha Beta stores (sold in June 1991); various Osco drug stores (sold in June 1991); and 74 Jewel Osco combination food and drug stores (sold in April 1992).
 Operating profit for the 1992 fiscal year, adjusted for disposed operations, was $645.8 million, or 3.44 percent of sales, compared to $614.4 million, or 3.30 percent of sales in 1991. The operating profit figures for both the current and previous years include approximately $71 million related to the company's purchase accounting amortization, which consists primarily of goodwill amortization. Adjusted for the purchase accounting amortization and disposed operations, 1992 operating profit totaled $717.2 million, or 3.82 percent of sales.
 For the 1992 year, the LIFO charge was $16.5 million, down from $34.9 million in the prior year. Lower inflation, particularly in the drug stores, sales of assets and other reductions in inventory levels influenced the LIFO calculation.
 The company also experienced significant savings in interest expense, attributable to generally lower interest rates and debt levels throughout the year. Interest expense fell to $213.4 million in 1992, compared to $264.2 million in 1991.
 With regard to its 2 million share repurchase program, the company said it intends, from time to time, to repurchase the shares in the open market. The stock repurchase will be funded through cash generated from operations and repurchased shares will be held as treasury stock. As of year end, American Stores Co. had 70.9 million shares outstanding.
 Victor L. Lund, president and chief executive officer of American Stores Co., said, "We are extremely pleased with our 1992 results. THe fact that we were able to post higher net earnings in a year when the economic slowdown touched consumers coast-to-coast is a real testament to our people.
 "As in prior quarters, higher operating profits in our drug store operations played a significant role in our excellent performance," said Lund. For the fiscal year, operating profits in comparable drug store operations increased 14.1 percent over the prior year. "Our Jewel Companies operations -- Jewel Food Stores, Acme Markets and Star Market -- also performed well in the fourth quarter with higher operating profit."
 Commenting on the first year results of American Stores Co.'s massive three-year, $2 billion capital spending program, Lund said that the company opened 36 new stores and remodeled 113. He said that during the year, American Stores Co. also acquired 63 CVS Drug Stores in Southern California, the rights to operate 22 CVS health and beauty aid stores, and acquired 30 Thrifty and Rx Plus Drug Stores in Arizona.
 "Although 1992's capital expenditures, which totaled $476.6 million, were somewhat below the company's stated forecasts this year, budgeted capital dollars that were not expended in 1992 will be rolled into our 1993 capital spending program," he said. "As in any start-up program, we experienced certain delays in ramping up our real estate and construction effort. We fully intend to commit the entire $2 billion sum to our capital plans by the end of fiscal 1994."
 Lund added, "We are committed to spending our capital dollars wisely, not just quickly."
 Lund was enthusiastic about the share repurchase program. "Current market conditions make our stock an extremely attractive investment. Importantly, it is consistent with our long-term strategy to enhance shareholder value."
 American Stores Co. is one of the nation's largest food and drug retailers. It operates 1,672 stores in 27 states. Its principal retail operations include Lucky Stores, headquartered in San Leandro and Buena Park, Calif.; Jewel Food Stores, headquartered in Melrose Park, Ill.; Acme Markets, headquartered in Malvern, Pa.; Star Market, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.; Jewel Osco, headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M.; Osco Drug, headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill.; and Sav-on, headquartered in Anaheim, Calif.
 AMERICAN STORES CO.
 Consolidated Statements of Earnings
 (Amounts in thousands)
 (Unaudited)
 13 Weeks Ended 52 Weeks Ended
 Jan. 30, Feb. 1, Jan. 30, Feb. 1,
 1993 1992 1993 1992
 Sales $4,850,275 $5,216,606 $19,051,180 $20,822,956
 Cost of sales (3,558,536) (3,892,392) (14,059,238) (15,580,838)
 LIFO provision 23,451 19,104 (16,549) (34,896)
 Gross profit 1,315,190 1,343,318 4,975,393 5,207,222
 Operating
 expenses (1,092,955) (1,155,580) (4,344,084) (4,597,123)
 Operating
 profit 222,235 187,738 631,309 610,099
 Interest expense (50,516) (61,697) (213,382) (264,162)
 Gains (losses)
 on asset sales,
 other 280 (8,709) (28,583) 104,705
 Earnings before
 income taxes and
 before cumulative
 effect of a change
 in accounting
 principle 171,999 117,332 389,344 450,642
 Federal and state
 income taxes (78,226) (58,444) (182,986) (210,474)
 Earnings before
 cumulative effect
 of a change in
 accounting
 principle 93,773 58,888 206,358 240,168
 Cumulative effect
 of a change in
 accounting
 principle 0 0 0 (40,734)
 Net earnings $93,773 $58,888 $206,358 $199,434
 Average common
 shares
 outstanding 70,777 69,253 70,157 69,182
 Earnings per
 common share
 before cumulative
 effect of a change
 in accounting
 principle $1.33 $0.85 $2.94 $3.47
 Cumulative effect
 of a change in
 accounting
 principle --- --- --- (0.59)
 Net earnings per
 common share $1.33 $0.85 $2.94 $2.88
 Earnings per
 common share
 before non-
 recurring items $1.33 $1.15 $3.14 $2.78
 Dividends per
 common share $0.200 $0.175 $0.725 $0.630
 AMERICAN STORES CO.
 Sales and Operating Profit Detail
 (Amounts in thousands)
 (Unaudited)
 13 Weeks Ended 52 Weeks Ended
 Jan. 30, Feb. 1, Jan. 30, Feb. 1,
 1993 1992 1993 1992
 Like Store sales:
 Jewel Companies
 Inc. -0.86 pct. -0.66 pct.
 Lucky Stores Inc. -2.88 pct. -2.30 pct.
 American Drug
 Stores Inc. 1.87 pct. 2.92 pct.
 Total -0.90 pct. -0.54 pct
 Sales:
 Jewel Companies
 Inc. $1,870,702 $1,906,746 $7,387,617 $7,498,731
 Lucky Stores
 Inc. 1,764,676 1,811,498 7,134,502 7,157,694
 American Drug
 Stores Inc. 1,142,129 1,058,584 4,001,895 3,721,539
 Other 72,768 68,336 270,269 264,162
 Comparable 4,850,275 4,845,164 18,794,283 18,642,126
 Disposed of
 stores 0 371,442 256,897 2,180,830
 Total sales $4,850,275 $5,216,606 $19,051,180 $20,822,956
 Operating profits:
 Jewel Companies
 Inc. $87,149 $86,024 $269,154 $273,660
 Lucky Stores Inc. 62,378 67,064 256,670 260,943
 American Drug
 Stores Inc. 67,679 63,872 204,964 179,675
 LIFO 23,451 19,104 (16,549) (34,896)
 Purchase
 accounting
 amortization (17,687) (17,853) (71,477) (71,789)
 Other (735) (21,111) 3,002 6,786
 Comparable 222,235 197,100 645,764 614,379
 Disposed of
 stores 0 (9,362) (14,455) (4,280)
 Total operating
 profits $222,235 $187,738 $631,309 $610,099
 NOTES:
 -- Jewel Companies Inc. includes Acme Markets Inc., Jewel Food Stores and Star Market.
 -- Lucky Stores Inc. includes Lucky Northern California Division and Lucky Southern California Division.
 -- American Drug Stores Inc. includes Osco Drug and Sav-on.
 -- "Other" includes real estate operations, Jewel Osco Southwest, JCI consolidation costs of $4.7 million in the fourth quarter and $17.1 million year-to-date 1992 and the accrual for litigation related to the 1985 salmonella incident of $19.6 million in the fourth quarter and year-to-date 1991.
 AMERICAN STORES CO.
 Operating Overviews
 (Amounts in thousands)
 (Unaudited)
 13 Weeks Ended 52 Weeks Ended
 Jan. 30, Feb. 1, Jan. 30, Feb. 1,
 1993 1992 1993 1992
 Jewel Companies Inc.
 Sales $1,870,702 $1,906,746 $7,387,617 $7,498,731
 Gross profit 480,661 475,546 1,855,194 1,846,995
 Percent sales 25.69 pct 24.94 pct 25.11 pct 24.63 pct
 Operating expenses 393,512 389,522 1,586,040 1,573,335
 Percent sales 21.04 pct 20.43 pct 21.47 pct 20.98 pct
 Operating profit $87,149 $86,024 $269,154 $273,660
 Percent sales 4.66 pct 4.51 pct 3.64 pct 3.65 pct
 Lucky Stores Inc.
 Sales $1,764,676 $1,811,498 $7,134,502 $7,157,694
 Gross profit 471,873 467,161 1,888,946 1,806,212
 Percent sales 26.74 pct 25.79 pct 26.48 pct 25.23 pct
 Operating expenses 409,495 400,097 1,632,276 1,545,269
 Percent sales 23.21 pct 22.09 pct 22.88 pct 21.59 pct
 Operating profit $62,378 $67,064 $256,670 $260,943
 Percent sales 3.53 pct 3.70 pct 3.60 pct 3.65 pct
 American Drug Stores Inc.
 Sales $1,142,129 $1,058,584 $4,001,895 $3,721,539
 Gross profit 326,160 296,415 1,151,119 1,054,717
 Percent sales 28.56 pct 28.00 pct 28.76 pct 28.34 pct
 Operating expenses 258,481 232,543 946,155 875,042
 Percent sales 22.63 pct 21.97 pct 23.64 pct 23.51 pct
 Operating profit $67,679 $63,872 $204,964 $179,675
 Percent sales 5.93 pct 6.03 pct 5.12 pct 4.83 pct
 AMERICAN STORES CO.
 (Amounts in thousands, except store count)
 (Unaudited)
 Consolidated Condensed Balance Sheets
 Jan. 30, 1993 Feb. 1, 1992
 Assets
 Inventory $1,516,212 $1,634,043
 Other current assets 482,721 504,015
 Property, plant and equipment, net 2,369,354 2,582,170
 Property under capital leases, net 85,048 99,279
 Goodwill, net 1,880,821 1,934,308
 Other assets 210,846 200,803
 Total $6,545,002 $6,954,618
 Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity
 Accounts payable $958,046 $961,963
 Other current liabilities 937,329 1,012,551
 Long-term debt,
 less current maturities 2,084,055 2,558,665
 Obligations under capital leases,
 less current maturities 92,317 103,492
 Other liabilities 781,207 802,375
 Common shareholders' equity 1,692,048 1,515,572
 Total $6,545,002 $6,954,618
 Store Count
 Stores Stores End of
 Beginning Opened Closed Year Remodels
 Quarter Ended Jan. 30, 1993
 Jewel Companies Inc. 491 2 (3) 490 27
 Lucky Stores Inc. 431 0 (1) 430 10
 American Drug Stores Inc. 705 41 (5) 741 7
 Jewel Osco Southwest 11 0 0 11 0
 Total 1,638 43 (9) 1,672 44
 Year-to-Date Jan. 30, 1993
 Jewel Companies Inc. 502 3 (15) 490 49
 Lucky Stores Inc. 429 8 (7) 430 32
 American Drug Stores Inc. 615 140(a) (14) 741 32
 Jewel Osco Southwest 85 0 (74) 11 0
 Total 1,631 151 (110) 1,672 113
 (a) Stores opened includes the acquisition of 115 stores.
 Miscellaneous Information
 Ended Jan. 30, 1993
 13 Weeks 52 Weeks
 Depreciation and amortization $90,429 $346,383
 Capital expenditures $190,490 $476,617
 -0- 3/2/93
 /CONTACT: Calvin O. Drecksel, VP-investor relations (investors), or Meredith C. Anderson, VP-Public and Government Relations (media), of American Stores 801-539-0112/
 (ASC)


CO: American Stores Co. ST: Utah IN: REA SU: ERN

JB-JL -- LA007 -- 1716 03/02/93 06:02 EST
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