UPDATE 1-Safeway forecasts 2013 profit above Street view
March 6 (Reuters) - Safeway Inc issued a 2013 forecast on Wednesday that suggests the grocery store operator will surpass Wall Street's expectations, and its shares rose to their highest level in nearly two years.
Safeway forecast 2013 earnings of $2.25 to $2.45 per share, above Wall Street's average estimate of $2.24 per share, according to JP Morgan analyst Ken Goldman, whose estimate was $2.31 per share.
Excluding a 12 cent per share benefit from credit card settlements in fiscal 2012, the new guidance implies earnings growth of 4 to 13 percent, Goldman said.
Safeway, whose chains include Dominick's and Vons, has been working to attract customers and boost sales amid tough competition from traditional grocers such as Kroger Co and discount retailers ranging from Wal-Mart Stores Inc to dollar stores.
Sales in its latest quarter were helped by the expansion of a personalized discount program called "Just for U" and partnerships with gas stations.
The company also said it expects capital expenditures of about $1 billion to $1.1 billion this year.
Shares of Safeway, which is meeting with analysts on Wednesday, were down 0.8 percent at $24.10 in late morning trade. The shares rose as high as $24.51 earlier in the session, hitting their highest level since June 2011.