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Ahold put an exclamation point on its financial difficulties this morning, announcing that it has posted a net loss for 2002 that is the equivalent of $1.4 billion (US).

The loss stems from $1.5 billion in write-downs on the company's operations in the US, Spain, and Argentina.

While analysts quoted in a number of places this morning seemed to think the worst is over, there was some frustration expressed about the fact that Ahold did not explain how it plans to repair its balance sheet and reduce its enormous debt load.

The company also said it has revised its 2001 net profit to $877 million (US) from the originally posted $1.3 billion, and the 2000 net profit $1.1 billion (US) from the originally posted $1.3 billion. reports that according to CEO Anders Moberg, Ahold will announce financing plans and strategy details at a shareholders' meeting later this month. However, Mr. Moberg has said that the newly released figures show the company needs to make widespread changes. "The numbers reflect the full impact of this year's discoveries on the financial state of the company. They also underline Ahold's underlying strength. We have great assets, many solid operation, and strong cash flow generation. But the numbers also show that is it's absolutely vital to make changes throughout the entire company."
KC's View:
We also would be concerned about the continuing postponements that Ahold management seems to use to delay laying out its specific strategy for the future.

So far, all we know is that the company is getting rid of non-core assets and is considering a policy of streamlining and centralization.

But a policy of retrenchment isn’t a vision for the future.