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Aug. 5, 2020, 2:09 a.m. EDT

Stop & Shop owner Ahold Delhaize lifts guidance

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By Ian Walker

Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV on Wednesday raised its guidance for the year as it reported market-beating net profit for the second quarter due to "unprecedented" demand in both the U.S. and Europe.

The Netherlands-based owner of grocery chains such as Stop & Shop and Giant Food made a net profit for the quarter of 693 million euros ($818.1 million) compared with EUR334 million for the same period last year. Consensus estimates taken from the company's website and based on 18 analysts' forecasts projected a result of EUR404 million.

Underlying earnings per share--one of the company's key metrics that strips out exceptional and other one-off items--rose to 65 European cents a share compared with 35 cents for the second quarter of 2019.

Ahold said it now expects to report low-to-mid 20% growth in underlying EPS, compared with previous guidance of mid-single-digit range this year.

Net sales for the quarter rose 16% at constant exchange rates to EUR19.10 billion from EUR16.32 billion a year before, the company said. In the U.S. comparable sales excluding fuel were up 21% in the quarter, while European sales were up 10%, Ahold Delhaize said.

The board has declared a dividend of 50 European cents a share, up from 30 cents a share for the second quarter of 2019.

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

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