Ahold announces results for first three quarters of 2003

11/26/2003, 8:31 AM (Source: GlobeNewswire)
This press release contains information that is more detailed than in prior quarterly releases. The Company does not intend to provide information to this level of detail in its future quarterly releases in 2004. In certain instances, results presented in this press release exclude the impact of fluctuations in currency exchange rates used in the translation of Ahold's foreign subsidiaries' financial statements into Euros, in order to provide a better insight into the operating performance of foreign subsidiaries. In addition, in certain instances, operating income for Ahold's business segments presented in this press release excludes the impact of the impairment and amortization of goodwill and exceptional losses. Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and exceptional losses is a non-GAAP financial measure. A reconciliation of this non-GAAP financial measure to the Dutch GAAP measure of operating income, as well as management's explanation for the use of this measure, are set forth in Annex B.

Highlights for the first three quarters of 2003:
- Net sales amounted to Euro 43.3 billion, a decrease of 10.5%
compared to the same period last year, or an increase of 3.3%
excluding foreign currency translation impact
- Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses amounted to Euro 857 million, a decrease of 53.4%
compared to the same period last year, or a decrease of 45.5%
excluding foreign currency translation impact
- Net loss amounted to Euro 62 million (net income of Euro 17 million
last year), including exceptional non-cash losses of Euro 130 million
- Net cash from operating activities totaled Euro 873 million
compared to Euro 1,692 million in the same period last year

Zaandam, The Netherlands, November 26, 2003 - Ahold today published
its results for the first three quarters of 2003. Commenting on the
results, Hannu Ryöppönen, CFO, said: "The results for the third
quarter of 2003 reflected the trends of the first half-year as
published on November 7, 2003 with some slippage of operating income
in our U.S. retail operations and an increase in operating losses at
U.S. Foodservice. Non-recurring items have negatively affected
results both at our U.S. retail operations and in U.S. Foodservice.
Operating income in Europe declined primarily due to a decrease at
Albert Heijn."

Net sales
The 10.5% decrease in net sales was largely attributable to lower
currency exchange rates against the Euro, particularly for the U.S.
Dollar. The average U.S. Dollar to Euro exchange rate decreased
approximately 16.7% in the first three quarters of 2003 compared to
the same period last year. Net sales excluding currency impact
increased by 3.3% mainly due to a 3.2% increase in net sales in the
U.S. retail trade operations, a 1.3% increase in the Europe retail
trade operations and a 1.2% increase at U.S. Foodservice.

In addition, net sales in the first three quarters of 2003 were:
- favorably impacted by the full period consolidation in Ahold's
consolidated financial statements of Disco and Santa Isabel in South
America, which began to be consolidated in the second and third
quarters of 2002, respectively;
- favorably impacted by the acquisition of Lady Baltimore and Allen
Foods in September and December 2002, respectively, which, together
with the consolidation of Disco and Santa Isabel discussed above,
contributed approximately 1.2% of the 3.3% net sales growth; and
- marginally negatively impacted by the divestments of Jamin and De
Tuinen in The Netherlands in the second quarter of 2003 and of the
Company's Chilean, Malaysian, Indonesian and Paraguayan operations
and De Walvis in The Netherlands in the third quarter of 2003.

Operating Income
The 49.0% decrease in operating income was primarily caused by weaker
operating performance in all business segments, the weakening of the
U.S. Dollar against the Euro and higher audit, legal and consultancy
fees. In addition, as discussed below, exceptional losses of Euro 130
million were recorded in the third quarter of 2003 related to the
divestment of a number of foreign subsidiaries, principally Ahold's
Chilean activities. Operating income in the same period last year was
negatively impacted by an exceptional loss of Euro 372 million in the
first three quarters of 2002. The exceptional loss was caused by the
default by Velox Retail Holdings (VRH), Ahold's former joint venture
partner, on bank debt that Ahold had guaranteed.

Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses in 2003 decreased by 53.4% compared to the same
period last year. Excluding currency impact, operating income before
impairment and amortization of goodwill and exceptional losses would
have decreased by 45.5% in the first three quarters of 2003 compared
to the same period last year. As mentioned above, this decrease was
primarily caused by a weaker operating performance across all
business segments, as well as higher audit, legal and consultancy
fees.

Goodwill Amortization
Goodwill amortization in the first three quarters of 2003 amounted to
Euro 131 million, a decrease of 35.1% compared to the same period
last year. This decrease was primarily due to lower goodwill balances
at year-end 2002 resulting from the goodwill impairment charges of
Euro 1,281 million recorded in fiscal 2002 of which Euro 1,185
million were recognized in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002 and to
the lower average currency exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar against
the Euro.

Goodwill Impairment
No goodwill impairment charges were recorded in the first three
quarters of 2003 compared to Euro 96 million in the same period last
year. The goodwill impairment charge recorded in the first three
quarters of 2002 mainly related to the purchase of the remaining
shares in DAIH in July and August 2002.

Exceptional Losses
Exceptional losses of Euro 130 million were recorded in the third
quarter of 2003 related to the divestment of foreign subsidiaries,
principally Ahold's Chilean activities. Of these exceptional losses,
Euro 90 million related to the recognition of accumulated foreign
currency translation adjustments in the statement of operations and
Euro 36 million to the reversal of goodwill, both of which had
previously been charged to shareholders' equity. These exceptional
losses were non-cash and had no impact on the overall level of
shareholders' equity. Exchange rate differences related to the
translation of the financial results of foreign subsidiaries are
recorded directly in shareholders' equity.

When these exchange rate differences are realized upon the sale or
liquidation of the underlying foreign subsidiary, the cumulative
foreign currency translation adjustments are recognized in the
statement of operations. Also, under Dutch GAAP, goodwill previously
deducted directly from shareholders' equity upon acquisition has to
be reclassified pro-rata to the statement of operations if sold
within six years of the initial acquisition.

Net Financial Expense
Net interest expense increased by 4.1% due to an increase in banking
fees and interest expenses related to the credit facility signed on
March 3, 2003, new debt assumed or incurred in connection with
acquisitions in the course of 2002 and an increase in cash dividends
paid in 2002. This increase in banking fees and interest expenses was
partly offset by a favorable currency impact, especially relating to
the U.S. Dollar against the Euro. Net interest expense excluding
currency impact increased by 18.8%.

The increase in banking fees and interest expenses was due in part to
the higher applicable borrowing rate for the 2003 credit facility
compared with the previous credit facility. The applicable borrowing
rate under the 2003 credit facility as of the end of the third
quarter of 2003 was LIBOR (or EURIBOR on Euro borrowings) plus 3.25%.
The applicable borrowing rate under the previous credit facility as
of year-end 2002 was LIBOR (or EURIBOR on Euro borrowings) plus a
margin of 0.35% to 0.40%, depending upon the amount of debt drawn
under the facility.

Ahold's level of borrowing and letters of credit under its 2003
credit facility have increased compared to the level under the
previous credit facility. Ahold also has incurred significant fees
under the 2003 credit facility and in connection with the extension
and amendment of its accounts receivable securitization programs.
Ahold's borrowings under the 2003 credit facility as of the end of
the third quarter of 2003 were USD 750 million and Euro 600 million,
plus USD 353 million of issued letters of credit that bore a fee of
3.25% of the stated amount. Its borrowings under the previous credit
facility as of year-end 2002 were USD 80 million, plus USD 150
million of issued letters of credit with a fee of 0.40%.

The gain on foreign exchange in the first three quarters of 2003
amounted to Euro 16 million and mainly related to the positive impact
of the revaluation of the Argentine Peso on U.S. Dollar-denominated
debt in Argentina. In the first three quarters of 2002, a foreign
exchange loss of Euro 85 million was mainly incurred related to the
negative impact of the devaluation of the Argentine Peso on U.S.
Dollar-denominated debt and inflation adjustment losses related to
Argentine Peso-denominated debt in Argentina.

Income Taxes
The effective income tax rate, adjusted for the impact of
non-tax-deductible impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses, increased to 50.9% in the first three quarters of
2003 compared to 30.0% in the same period last year. The main factor
contributing to this increase in the effective tax rate was a
different geographic mix of earnings, and higher losses in areas
where no tax credit could be recorded.

Share in Income (Loss) of Joint Ventures and Equity Investees
The share in income (loss) of joint ventures and equity investees in
the first three quarters of 2003 amounted to an income of Euro 139
million, compared to a loss of Euro 42 million in the same period
last year. The share in income of ICA, included in European joint
ventures, increased considerably in the first three quarters of 2003
mainly as a result of a gain related to the sale and leaseback of
several distribution centers.

The loss in the first three quarters of 2002 was primarily caused by
losses at DAIH. The loss at DAIH of Euro 126 million reflects the
losses incurred at Disco and Santa Isabel at the time that they were
not consolidated, which were mainly caused by the negative impact of
the devaluation of the Argentine Peso on U.S. Dollar-denominated
debt, as well as inflation adjustment losses on third-party Argentine
Peso-denominated debt in Argentina. The losses in the first three
quarters of 2002 at DAIH were partially offset by income from ICA AB,
Jerónimo Martins Retail (JMR) and Paiz Ahold in this period.

Net Income (Loss)
Net loss in the first three quarters of 2003 was Euro 62 million,
compared to a net income of Euro 17 million in the same period last
year. The net loss in the 2003 period was primarily caused by lower
operating performance at all business segments and higher audit,
legal and consultancy fees, as well as the weakening of the U.S.
Dollar against the Euro and the Euro 130 million of exceptional
losses related to divestments.

Net Income (Loss) after Preferred Dividends per Common Share-Basic
Net loss after preferred dividends per common share-basic amounted to
Euro 0.10 per common share in the first three quarters of 2003
compared to a net loss of Euro 0.01 per common share in the same
period last year.

Retail Trade - United States

Third Quarter 2003
Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses in the third quarter of 2003 decreased as a result
of reduced gross margin due to increased promotional activity,
particularly at Giant-Landover and Tops. Stop & Shop continued its
solid performance during the quarter.

Operating income also was significantly impacted by impairment
charges relating to long-lived assets and other non-recurring items.
In addition, in the third quarter of 2002, real estate gains totaling
Euro 29 million had a positive impact on operating income, as
reported last year, versus a gain of Euro 4 million this year.

First Three Quarters 2003
The decrease in net sales in the first three quarters of 2003 was
largely attributable to a lower U.S. Dollar to Euro exchange rate.
U.S. Dollar net sales increased by 3.2% resulting from comparable
sales growth and the opening of new stores. Identical sales increased
by 0.1% and comparable sales at existing and replacement stores
increased by 0.9%. At Stop & Shop and Giant-Carlisle, U.S. Dollar net
sales increased by 6.6% and 7.8%, respectively. Giant-Landover and
Tops experienced pressure on net sales due to the weak economy and
heightened competition, resulting in only slight increases in U.S.
Dollar net sales. Due to the difficult trading environment in the
southeastern United States, U.S. Dollar net sales at Bruno's and
BI-LO (excluding Golden Gallon) were lower.

Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses in the first three quarters of 2003 decreased
primarily as a result of the decline in the third quarter. Operating
expenses at all of the companies in the U.S. retail operations were
impacted by higher pension expenses, as well as continued rising
health care costs. The pressure on operating expenses caused by these
factors was partially offset by various cost saving initiatives.

Retail Trade - Europe

Third Quarter 2003
Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses at Albert Heijn in the third quarter of 2003
decreased significantly compared to the same period in 2002. The
decrease was primarily due to lower net sales and gross margins
partially offset by lower operating expenses from cost reduction
programs. As part of these programs, Albert Heijn is restructuring
its head office and logistics functions, including through the
reduction of 440 jobs.

Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses at other Europe retail trade operations increased
in the third quarter of 2003, compared to the same period in 2002.
This increase was primarily due to a strong increase at Schuitema as
a result of higher sales and lower operating costs. In Central
Europe, operating loss before impairment and amortization of goodwill
and exceptional losses increased partly due to fixed asset impairment
charges related to the sale of two hypermarkets in Poland and
increased operating costs due to new stores. Spain incurred a small
operating loss before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses mainly due to slightly lower gross margins and
higher operating costs partly related to new stores as well as fixed
asset impairment charges.

First Three Quarters 2003
Net sales at Albert Heijn in the first three quarters of 2003
decreased by 2.0% compared to the same period last year. Identical
sales at Albert Heijn in the first three quarters of 2003 declined by
2.0% primarily due to lower consumer spending and a negative market
sentiment towards Albert Heijn. As a result, Albert Heijn introduced
a new pricing strategy in October 2003.
Net sales at other Europe retail trade operations in the first three
quarters of 2003 increased by 4.1% compared to the same period last
year, primarily due to strong net sales growth at Schuitema and an
increase in net sales in Central Europe and Spain. Net sales were
marginally offset by the disposals of Ahold's specialty stores (Jamin
and De Tuinen) in The Netherlands, which were completed in the second
quarter of 2003. In Central Europe and Spain, net sales increased due
to the opening of new stores, however, net sales in Central Europe
were negatively impacted by deflation and a negative currency impact.

Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses in the Europe retail trade operations decreased
primarily due to lower operating income at Albert Heijn. This was
principally caused by lower net sales and gross margins, partially
offset by lower operating expenses due to the start-up of cost
reduction programs. In response to the competitive environment,
Albert Heijn announced its price repositioning campaign on October 5,
2003.

Operating income before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses at other Europe retail trade operations in the
first three quarters of 2003 was almost at the same level as the
comparable period of last year.

Foodservice - United States

Third Quarter 2003
The operating loss before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses in the third quarter of 2003 was primarily due to
continued substantial pressure on gross profit at U.S. Foodservice as
a result of its continued focus on controlling inventory levels and,
hence, reduced purchases from vendors. As a result of the latter,
volume allowances, which are based on purchases from vendors and
which are an offset against cost of goods sold, were reduced.

First Three Quarters 2003
Net sales at U.S. Foodservice in the first three quarters of 2003
decreased by 15.7% compared to the same period last year primarily
due to a lower currency exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar against the
Euro. U.S. Dollar net sales increased slightly by 1.2% due to the
acquisition of Lady Baltimore and Allen Foods in September and
December 2002, respectively, which contributed approximately 1.8% of
the increase in net sales in the first three quarters of 2003,
meaning that there has been a slight decrease in net sales excluding
these acquisitions.

The operating loss before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses was primarily due to substantial pressures on
operating profit at U.S. Foodservice principally as a result of the
repercussions from the accounting issues and investigations in 2003.
Furthermore, U.S. Foodservice experienced a weakening of its
procurement leverage as vendors raised prices and shortened payment
terms, resulting in a sharp deterioration in profitability.

Food Service - Europe
Net sales at the Deli XL food service operations, located in The
Netherlands and Belgium, in the first three quarters of 2003
decreased by 3.3% compared to the same period last year. This
decrease was primarily due to continuing unfavorable economic
circumstances.

Operating income at the Deli XL food service operations in the first
three quarters of 2003 decreased by 75.0% compared to the same period
last year.

Other Business Areas

Retail Trade - South America
Net sales in the South America retail trade operations in the first
three quarters of 2003 increased by 13.6% compared to the same period
last year. This increase was mainly due to the consolidation of Disco
and Santa Isabel since the second and third quarter of 2002,
respectively. This increase was partially offset by the impact of the
divestment of Santa Isabel's Chilean and, to a lesser extent,
Paraguayan operations in July and September 2003, respectively.

The operating loss before impairment and amortization of goodwill and
exceptional losses in the first three quarters of 2003 was a result
of the consolidation of Disco and Santa Isabel since the second and
third quarter of 2002, respectively, both of which had operating
losses, and the negative impact of lower net sales and lower margins
recorded at the company's Brazilian operations.

Retail Trade - Asia
Net sales in the Asia retail trade operations in the first three
quarters of 2003 decreased by 17.7% compared to the same period last
year. This decrease was primarily due to the disposal of operations
in Malaysia and Indonesia completed in September 2003 and a decline
in net sales in Thailand due to strong competition.

The increase in operating loss was primarily due to lower net sales
and gross margin and to restructuring charges incurred as a result of
the divestment program in Asia in the first three quarters of 2003.

Other Activities
Other activities include operations of three real estate companies
which acquire, develop and manage store locations in Europe and the
United States and corporate overhead costs of the Ahold parent
company. The operating loss before impairment and amortization of
goodwill and exceptional losses in the first three quarters of 2003
partially reflected corporate costs of Euro 124 million compared to
Euro 24 million in the same period last year. The higher corporate
costs in the 2003 period were mainly caused by the significant costs
incurred in connection with the forensic accounting and legal
investigations that have been conducted, ongoing litigation and
ongoing government and regulatory investigations, as well as higher
audit fees in connection with the audit of the company's 2002
financial statements. Furthermore, corporate costs increased as a
result of an increase in the company's provision for self insurance
and a decrease in gains from the sale of real estate compared to the
same period last year.

Cash Flow Statement
Net cash from operating activities in the first three quarters of
2003 decreased by 48% compared to the same period last year, mainly
as a consequence of lower operating income. Changes in working
capital resulted in a cash outflow of Euro 131 million in the first
three quarters of 2003 partly due to shorter payment terms imposed by
certain suppliers to U.S. Foodservice as a consequence of the
discovery of the accounting irregularities as announced. As a
consequence, changes in accounts payable resulted in a cash outflow
of Euro 532 million in the first three quarters of 2003. This was
offset by a cash inflow related to changes in inventory partly as a
result of U.S. Foodservices' focus on controlling inventory levels
and purchases from vendors.

Investments in tangible fixed assets in the first three quarters of
2003 amounted to Euro 805 million compared to Euro 1,445 million in
the same period last year. Divestments of tangible and intangible
fixed assets amounted to Euro 455 million in the first three quarters
of 2003 compared to Euro 318 million in the same period last year.

Shareholders' Equity
Shareholders' equity, expressed as a percentage of the balance sheet
total, was 10.0% at the end of the third quarter of 2003 compared to
10.5% at year-end 2002.

Debt Position
The rolling interest coverage ratio at the end of the first three
quarters of 2003 amounted to 1.2, compared to 2.5 at the end of the
same period last year. The rolling net debt / EBITDA ratio amounted
to 4.3 at the end of the third quarter of 2003, compared to 3.1 at
the end of the same period last year.

Outlook for 2003
Ahold expects that its consolidated net sales in 2003, excluding
currency impact, will be slightly higher than in 2002, primarily as a
result of an increase in net sales in the U.S. retail trade
operations resulting from comparable sales growth and the opening of
new stores. This positive factor will be partially offset by the
weakened global economy and strong competition in the markets that
the company serves, as well as the need for management to deal with
the repercussions of the announcements on February 24, 2003 and
related developments. In addition, 2003 net sales will be negatively
affected by completed and future divestments closed in 2003.

Operating expenses, excluding the impact of currency exchange rates
and the impact of goodwill impairment and amortization and
exceptional losses, are expected to be significantly higher in 2003
than in 2002. The company expects that net interest expense,
excluding currency impact, will be above 2002 levels. Nevertheless,
the company expects to report net income for the full year 2003,
excluding the impact of any goodwill impairment and amortization that
may be incurred in the fourth quarter of 2003 and excluding
exceptional losses with respect to its divestments.

At the end of 2003, Ahold will evaluate the carrying amount of its
goodwill for possible impairment and will determine whether any
goodwill impairment charges are required to be taken. No triggering
event has been identified in 2003 as of the date of this press
release.

Ahold expects that it will incur exceptional losses upon completion
of the divestitures of certain Latin American operations, which is
expected to occur prior to the end of 2003 or in 2004. The completion
of these divestitures will lead to the recognition of accumulated
foreign currency translation adjustments in the statement of
operations as well as in some cases the reversal of goodwill
previously charged to shareholders' equity. The cumulative exchange
rate differences charged to shareholders' equity at the end of the
third quarter of 2003 amounted to Euro 330 million and Euro 215
million for Brazil and Argentina, respectively. The respective
amounts of goodwill reversed should a transaction have taken place at
the end of the third quarter of 2003 would have been Euro 255 million
for Brazil and Euro 82 million for Argentina, respectively.

The performance of U.S. retail in the fourth quarter of 2003 is
expected to improve compared to the third quarter partly due to
seasonality. The company expects EBITA margin in the fourth quarter
to improve to approximately the level achieved in the first three
quarters of 2003.

At Albert Heijn, operating profit will be negatively impacted in the
fourth quarter by the price repositioning announced on October 5.
However, the company expects that this negative impact will be partly
offset by higher volume. So far, the customer response to Albert
Heijn's price repositioning has been positive.

Ahold expects its food service operations in the United States to
have a clearly lower operating loss before impairment and
amortization of goodwill and exceptional losses in the fourth quarter
of 2003 compared to the third quarter of 2003, excluding currency
impact.

US GAAP Reconciliation
The audited 2002 Financial Statements on Form 20-F filed with the
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contains a reconciliation
from Dutch GAAP to US GAAP of net income (loss) and shareholders'
equity. Ahold has not provided a US GAAP reconciliation on a
quarterly basis in 2003 but intends to do so in 2004.

Accounting Principles
The accounting principles applied have not changed compared to the
accounting principles as stated in the Ahold 2002 Annual Report,
which was published in English and Dutch, both of which have been
posted on the Ahold web site (www.ahold.nl).

In November 2002, the Emerging Issues Task Force ("EITF") of the
Financial Accounting Standards Board in the United States reached
consensus on Issue No. 02-16, Accounting for Consideration Received
from a Vendor by a Customer (Including a Reseller of the Vendor's
Products) ("EITF 02-16"). Under the consensus, cash considerations
received from a vendor should be considered an adjustment to the
price of the vendor's products or services and, therefore,
characterized as a reduction of cost of sales when sold unless (1)
the cash consideration represents a reimbursement of a specific,
incremental, identifiable cost incurred in selling the vendor's
products and therefore characterized as a reduction of those costs or
(2) the cash consideration represents a payment for assets or
services delivered to the vendor and therefore characterized as
revenue.

The Company will adopt the provisions of EITF 02-16 for Dutch GAAP in
the fourth quarter of 2003. The Company has not yet completed its
analysis of the effect on the consolidated financial statements as a
result of the adoption of EITF 02-16.

The 2002 numbers included in this press release have been restated as
disclosed in note 3 of the Ahold 2002 Annual Report.

Other
The data included in this press release are unaudited. The balance
sheet items as per December 29, 2002 have been derived from the Ahold
2002 Annual Report.

Definitions
- Identical sales compare sales from exactly the same stores.
- Comparable sales are identical sales plus results from replacement
stores.
- Currency impact is the impact of using different exchange rates to
translate the financial figures of subsidiaries to Euros. Where
specifically indicated, the financial figures of the previous year
are adjusted using the current year exchange rates.
- The interest coverage ratio is calculated as operating income
excluding impairment and amortization of goodwill and exceptional
losses, divided by net interest expense.
- Net debt / EBITDA: Net debt includes long- and short-term interest
bearing debt, netted with loans receivable and cash and cash
equivalents, divided by EBITDA excluding exceptional losses.
- Net income (loss) after preferred dividends per common share-basic
is calculated as net income (loss) after preferred dividends, divided
by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during
the applicable period.

Please open the attachment for the full press release including
tables.
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Certain statements in this press release are "forward-looking
statements" within the meaning of U.S. federal securities laws. Ahold
intends that these statements be covered by the safe harbors created
under these laws. These forward-looking statements include, but are
not limited to, statements relating to Ahold's future profitability,
expectations as to the amount of possible reclassifications, possible
reversal of goodwill charges and possible exceptional losses,
expectations as to increases in net sales and operating expenses and
estimations of the factors that will cause such expected increases,
statements as to the expected impact of completed and future
divestments and statements as to the timing of changes in Ahold's
Dutch and US GAAP reporting. These forward-looking statements are
subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause
actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or
implied by the forward-looking statements. Important factors that
could cause actual results to differ materially from the information
set forth in these forward-looking statements include, but are not
limited to, the effect of general economic conditions, increases in
competition in the markets in which Ahold's subsidiaries and joint
ventures operate, fluctuations in exchange rates, the financial
consolidation certain of Ahold's subsidiaries and joint ventures, the
ability of Ahold to implement successfully its strategy, difficulties
in complying with new accountancy pronouncements and other factors
discussed in Ahold's public filings. Many of these factors are beyond
Ahold's ability to control or predict. Given these uncertainties,
readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on the
forward-looking statements, which only speak as of the date of this
press release. Ahold does not undertake any obligation to release
publicly any revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect
events or circumstances after the date of this press release or to
reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events or circumstances,
except as may be required under applicable securities laws. Outside
The Netherlands, Koninklijke Ahold N.V., being its registered name,
presents itself under the name of "Royal Ahold" or simply "Ahold."
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