Ahold Fourth-Quarter Sales Down

Dutch retailer Ahold said on Thursday fourth-quarter sales fell 3% as its sluggish U.S. retail operations offset strong domestic sales growth and margins affected by restructuring costs.

The world's fourth-biggest food retail and foodservice group by sales said sales were 10.4 billion euros ($13.46 billion) compared with an average forecast of 10.5 billion euros in a Reuters poll of 16 analysts.

Fourth-quarter sales were up 3% at constant exchange rates. Ahold owns the Netherlands' biggest supermarket chain but generates more than 70% of its turnover in the United States.