(June 17) BOISE, Idaho — Restructuring may have helped Albertson’s Inc. increase its first-quarter earnings.

After raising its first-quarter earnings guidance in late May, on June 5 the retailer increased its fiscal year 2002 earnings per share guidance from $2.28 to $2.31, a 12% increase over last year.

First-quarter earnings increased 19% over last year on $8.9 billion in sales, up to $233 million compared to 2001’s $198 million in first quarter sales, the company reported.

Larry Johnson, Albertson’s chairman and chief executive officer, attributed the financial improvements to the company’s restructuring, which involved leaving its Memphis, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Houston; and San Antonio markets.

Meanwhile, Kroger Co., Cincinnati, the nation’s leading supermarket chain, announced April 12 that it would purchase 16 of Albertson’s 40 Houston-area stores.

On April 10, Albertson’s announced the sale of its Wichita, Kan., and Topeka, Kan., stores to an Associated Wholesale Grocers subsidiary.

According to Progressive Grocer magazine’s latest Super 50 ranking of top supermarket chains, Albertson’s is No. 3. Its 2,300 stores in 31 states generated $38 billion in yearly sales, according to Albertson’s.