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May 7, 2020, 2:07 a.m. EDT

Ahold Delhaize profit lifted by virus stockpiling

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By Ian Walker

Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV on Thursday reported a 48% rise in net profit for the first quarter as it benefited from customer stockpiling due to the coronavirus pandemic, and backed its full-year guidance.

The Netherlands-based owner of grocery chains such as Stop & Shop and Giant Food made a net profit of 645 million euros ($697.4 million) for the quarter compared with EUR435 million for the comparable period last year.

Underling earnings per share--one of the company's key metrics which strips out exceptional and other one-off items--rose 47% to 59 euro cents for the first quarter of 2019.

Ahold reiterated that it expects underlying earnings per share for the year to grow in the mid-single-digit range.

Net sales for the quarter grew to EUR18.21 billion, compared with EUR15.88 billion a year before and consensus forecasts of EUR18.24 billion, taken from the company's website and based on 14 analysts projections.

In the U.S., the company's comparable sales were up 14% in the quarter excluding gasoline.

"We remain committed to our dividend policy and share buyback program, but given the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, we will continue to monitor macroeconomic developments," the company said.

Write to Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com; @IanWalk40289749

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