Further, the company lifted its dividend.
Ahold Delhaize, which was formed with the merger of Belgian food retailer Delhaize and Dutch supermarket chain Ahold, reported that fourth-quarter net income declined 43.3 percent to 144 million euros or 0.11 per share from last year's 254 million euros or 0.31 euros.
On a pro forma basis, as if the merger had occurred on the first day of Ahold's 2015 financial year, income from continuing operations was 158 million euros, compared to last year's 366 million euros. Pro forma earnings per share dropped to 0.12 euros from 0.29 euros a year ago.
Pro forma underlying earnings per share from continuing operations were 0.32 euros, down from 0.33 euros a year ago.
Operating income climbed 25.8 percent to 487 million euros from last year's 387 million euros. Pro forma operating income was down 10.2 percent to 501 million euros.
Fourth-quarter pro forma underlying operating margin was 3.9 percent, down from 4 percent last year. This was despite strong performance in the Netherlands and at Delhaize America.
Pro forma underlying EBITDA edged down 0.4 percent to 1.045 billion euros from 1.049 billion euros last year. Pro forma underlying EBITDA margin remained at 6.7 percent.
Net sales climbed 54.5 percent to 15.12 billion euros from 9.79 billion euros a year ago. Pro forma net sales were 15.51 billion, down 1 percent from last year, and down 2.2 percent at constant exchange rates.
Adjusted for week 53 in 2015, pro forma sales grew 3.9 percent, and the growth was 2.8 percent at constant exchange rates. Adjusted for 53 week, pro forma net sales increased in all regions, except Belgium.
Further, the company said it proposed a common stock dividend of 0.57 euros for the financial year 2016, up 9.6 percent from last year.
Looking ahead, Ahold Delhaize said it will remain focused on implementing strategic initiatives to further improve the customer proposition and drive volumes, however it expects the deflationary environment in the United States to continue through the first quarter of 2017.
The company confirmed target for 2017 of realizing 220 million euros net synergies, including 22 million euros realized in 2016, incremental to pro forma underlying operating income.
Ahold Delhaize also said that the integration is on track, with synergies from the Better Together strategy delivering according to plan. ■
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