(July 26) Supervalu Inc. posted double-digit earnings per share for the fourth straight quarter since the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based retailer acquired Albertsons Inc. last June.

Supervalu reported July 24 that its net sales of $13.3 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 were more than double the $5.8 billion it reported during the same period a year ago. The company reported net earnings of $148 million, up from $87 million last year. Diluted earnings per share jumped 21% to 69 cents.

Chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Noddle said Supervalu had raised the bottom end of its 2008 earnings per share forecast 5 cents to $2.93 to $3.03 a share.

“We are very well positioned,” he said during a July 24 conference call.

Supervalu’s outlook got a boost a day earlier when grocery workers in southern California approved a four-year labor contract with Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons. Unions representing about 65,000 workers there had voted to authorize a strike. The previous contract, which was agreed to in 2004 after a 141-day strike, had expired in March.

Net sales in Supervalu’s 2,464 retail stores were $10.4 billion for the first quarter, up from $2.9 billion a year ago. Pamela Knous, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said during the conference call that stores acquired in the previous year accounted for $7.5 billion. Net sales for the year are estimated at $44 billion.