Ahold Delhaize has reported better-than-expected sales and underlying operating income for the second quarter of 2020, as coronavirus lockdowns drove more traffic through its stores and online delivery services.
Underlying operating income was €1.01 billion, up 78% from €594 million in the same period a year ago, on comparable sales of €19.1 billion, up 15.9%.
Analysts in a company-compiled poll had forecast underlying operating income at €640 million on sales of €18.0 billion.
In the US, net sales were up 18.7% in the quarter, while online sales soared by 127%, while in Europe, net sales rose 11.4% in the quarter, with online sales rising by 64%.
Ahold raised its outlook for 2020, saying margins would now be higher, with per-share earnings growth slightly above 20%. Full-year online sales are projected to grow by 55% and reach €7 billion in 2020, rather than next year as originally forecast.
"Our Q2 performance illustrates the challenge all companies are facing in predicting results in the highly uncertain environment created by COVID-19," commented Frans Muller, the group's chief executive.
"Despite the high levels of market uncertainty, we are accelerating investments to support our increasing digital and omnichannel ambitions and raising our 2020 outlook due to our strong performance in the first half of the year."
The company operates the Giant, Stop & Shop, Food Lion and Hannaford chains on the U.S. East Coast, where it generates almost two-thirds of sales, and the Albert Heijn and Delhaize chains in the Netherlands and Belgium.
"Our second quarter results reflect excellent operational execution by associates during the COVID-19 crisis," Muller added. "We will continue to make protecting and investing in the health and safety of associates and customers, as well as supporting our local communities, our top priorities."