Closing Bell

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Closing Bell

Safeway's Burd Still Sees "Very Strong Year"


Forget gas price fluctuations: People have to eat. And remodeled stores, fresh produce and prepared meals boosted quarterly profit at supermarket chain Safeway. So if analysts were disappointed by the firm's sales, well, Chairman and CEO Steven Burd seems happy anyway.

Burd noted for "Closing Bell" that his firm gives guidance every December -- and that its full-year view has not changed in the two-month interim. He touted Safeway's "fixed costs," pointed to a "very strong quarter" -- and maintained his faith that Safeway will enjoy a "very strong year." He noted that his firm had called for fiscal 2007 earnings per share of $1.90 to $2.00 -- so Wall Street EPS predictions of $1.95 suit him just fine.

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo picked Burd's brain about Whole Foods' announced acquisition of Wild Oats. The CEO said that, given the likelihood of consolidation throughout the organic-food sector, the news "was no surprise at all." And he's not ruffled by the merger: "organic [food] is high-growth," he says, but it's still a small component of Safeway business. Burd maintained that the No. 3 U.S. grocer stays sanguine by "taking market share from other supermarket competitors" -- and has done so for eight consecutive quarters.

You Gotta Eat, They Figure