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Pension costs dent retailer Ahold's Q4 profits

Thursday - 2/28/2013, 5:50am  ET

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Royal Ahold NV, the Dutch operator of U.S. supermarket chains Stop & Shop and Giant, has reported a 41 percent fall in fourth quarter profits as a result of pension and restructuring charges.

Net profit was EUR158 million ($208 million), down from EUR270 million in the same period the previous year. The fall was due to one-time charges of EUR88 million to settle changes in the company's U.S. pension plan, and another EUR88 million hit to write down the value of the company's software systems.

The charges masked a 7.5 percent increase in revenue to EUR7.84 billion.

CEO Dick Boer says the company is "cautious" in its outlook for 2013, but would increase its dividend by 10 percent to EUR0.44 per share, and buy back EUR500 million worth of shares.

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