A Safeway in San Rafael. File photo. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A Safeway in San Rafael. File photo. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Safeway, our very own Bay Area-based grocery giant, announced Wednesday it’s in talks that could lead to the company’s sale.

In a statement released as part of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement, Safeway said:

Although the discussions are ongoing, the company has not reached an agreement on a transaction, and there can be no assurance that these discussions will lead to an agreement or a completed transaction. The company will not comment further on these discussions at this time.

The company, which has more than 1,300 U.S. locations and employs 171,000 people, says it’s postponing its investor conference that had been scheduled for early March.

The Wall Street Journal offers this bit of context on today’s announcement of a possible sale:

Activist investor Jana Partners acquired a stake in Safeway last fall and pressed the company to shed some operations in unprofitable regions.

Safeway, which operates grocery stores under its own name and regional chains such as Vons and Randalls, has made several strategic moves in recent months, including separate deals to sell off the company’s Canadian and Chicago stores. Safeway also spun off its gift-card unit into a publicly-traded company, Blackhawk Network Holdings Inc. Jana later reduced its stake in Safeway in December.

For the fourth quarter, Safeway earned $100 million, or 35 cents per share, from continuing operations. Excluding one-time items, it earned 53 cents per share, above the 47 cents per share Wall Street expected.

A year earlier, it earned $170.7 million, or 71 cents per share. Revenue was $11.31 billion, short of the $11.49 billion analysts expected.

Shares jumped 4 percent in late trading.

This post includes reporting from the Associated Press.


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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