Ahold Q4 earnings fall 41 per cent on pension costs, writedown of software systems

AMSTERDAM – Royal Ahold NV, the Dutch operator of U.S. supermarket chains Stop & Shop and Giant, has reported a 41 per cent fall in fourth quarter profits as a result of pension and restructuring charges.

Net profit was €158 million ($208 million), down from €270 million in the same period the previous year. The fall was due to one-time charges of €88 million to settle changes in the company’s U.S. pension plan, and another €88 million hit to write down the value of the company’s software systems.

The charges masked a 7.5 per cent increase in revenue to €7.84 billion.

CEO Dick Boer says the company is “cautious” in its outlook for 2013, but would increase its dividend by 10 per cent to €0.44 per share, and buy back €500 million worth of shares.