Pension costs dent retailer Ahold's Q4 profits

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 (EURO)158 million ($208 million), down from (EURO)270 million in the same period the previous year. The fall was due to one-time charges of (EURO)88 million to settle changes in the company's U.S. pension plan, and another (EURO)88 million hit to write down the value of the company's software systems.

The charges masked a 7.5 percent increase in revenue to (EURO)7.84 billion.

CEO Dick Boer says the company is "cautious" in its outlook for 2013, but would increase its dividend by 10 percent to (EURO)0.44 per share, and buy back (EURO)500 million worth of shares.

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