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AMERICAN STORES REPORTS '91 EARNINGS WERE UP 9.3%

American Stores Co. reported net earnings for the 1991 fiscal year that ended Feb. 1 were $199.4 million, or $2.88 per common share, up 9.3 percent from $182.4 million, or $2.64 per share, in 1990.

Total sales for the fiscal year were $20.8 billion, down 6 percent from $22.2 billion for the same period a year ago.Sales from comparable operations in 1991 increased 2.3 percent to $20.1 billion. Comparable operations exclude the results of the Alpha Beta Co. and 59 drug stores that were sold in 1991, and the Buttrey Food & Drug chain, which was sold in 1990.

Total sales from stores that have been open at least one year increased slightly in 1991, with like-store sales from the company's drug stores increasing 7.7 percent and like-store sales from its grocery and combination stores decreasing 1.6 percent. Like-store customer count increased 0.3 percent.

The company said that comparable operating profits for the 1991 year were impacted by the "continuing softness" in sales growth due to the recession and the losses reported by the Jewel/Osco combination food and drug stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Florida.

American Stores recorded a fourth-quarter charge in connection with the company's salmonella-related litigation, primarily associated with increased legal fees and other expenses. In 1989, the company said it increased the reserve for salmonella-related claims in anticipation that the reserve would be adequate to meet future liabilities.

Average common shares outstanding for the year were 69.182 million in 1991, up from 69.022 million in 1990. All per-share amounts and average shares outstanding have been adjusted to reflect the company's July 16, 1991, 2-for-1 stock split.