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Ahold reports first quarter margin decline in US, Netherlands

Supermarket operator Ahold said on Wednesday first-quarter operating margins declined at both its U.S. and Dutch operations and it reported underlying earnings below analysts' expectations.

Ahold said it was unable to raise prices enough to keep up with inflation in the U.S., while in the Netherlands it was investing in its online businesses and had higher pension costs.

Group operating income was 390 million euros ($425 million), down from 392 million euros in the same period a year earlier.

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Analysts polled by Reuters had seen operating income at 411 million euros.

Ahold said sales at constant currency exchange rates rose 14.9 percent to 11.3 billion euros, due mostly to the strong dollar, while underlying sales were up 1.4 percent.

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