Safeway Inc. said charges to write down the value of two of its supermarket chains drove it to a loss for its fourth quarter.
The grocery chain reported a loss of $1.61 billion, or $4.06 per share, for the quarter. Safeway earned $338 million, or 79 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.
Excluding the charges, tied to the value of its Vons and Eastern brands, the company earned 53 cents a share -- in line with analyst estimates.
Revenue fell more than 8 percent to $12.69 billion for Safeway, hurt in part by comparison to the prior quarter, which included an extra week. Sales were slightly higher than analyst expectations of $12.62 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
Safeway, based in Pleasanton, Calif, hit a slump in the recession as it was slow to lower prices to draw consumers who were increasingly budget-minded. But the company has since lowered prices on key items and drawn more shoppers to its stores. But those lower prices, along with tougher competition and limited spending by shoppers, have hampered its profitability.
For the full year, the company reported a net loss of $1.1 billion, or $2.62 per share, compared with $965.3 million, or $2.21 per share in the prior year. Adjusted for write-downs, the company earned $1.74 per share for the year.
Revenue fell more than 7 percent for the year to $44.1 million.
Shares of Safeway fell 68 cents, nearly 3 percent, to $22.82 Thursday morning.