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• Safeway reported fourth quarter net income OF $301.1 million, down 2.2 percent from year-earlier net income of $307.9 million. Q4 sales rose 6.8 percent to $13.4 billion, better than analysts' average estimate of $13.03 billion.

In a conference call with analysts, Safeway CEO Steve Burd said, “We are clearly observing a cautious consumer … I think some of that caution stems from the fact that they are a little concerned about the economy. Everybody is forecasting some kind of recession.”

Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that “Dominick's, the Chicago area grocery chain, long rumored to be for sale by its owner Safeway, could instead be part of a private-equity buyout of the entire Safeway chain, one analyst speculated Thursday in a report to investors.

“Sean Egan, managing director at Egan-Jones Ratings Co., said a private-equity firm such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Thomas H. Lee Partners or Chicago's own Madison Dearborn Partners would be the likely buyers of Safeway.”

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