Selling and administrative expenses in the third quarter were $1.52 billion, or 19.3 percent of net sales, including a $19 million net pre-tax benefit comprised of income related to a cash settlement received from credit card companies which was partially offset by net charges primarily related to previously announced store closures. Excluding these items, third quarter selling and administrative costs were $1.54 billion, or 19.5 percent of net sales compared to $1.61 billion, or 19.3 percent of net sales last year. The 20 basis point increase in the adjusted selling and administrative expense rate as a percent of net sales in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 reflects a 20 basis point negative impact from lower fuel sales. The impact from sales deleveraging was offset by the Company’s cost reduction initiatives.
Net interest expense for the third quarter was $126 million compared to $119 million last year. The increase is primarily related to a higher average interest rate compared to last year associated with the Company’s refinanced secured term-loan facility.
SUPERVALU’s income tax expense was $15 million, or 48.4 percent of pre-tax income, for the third quarter, compared to an income tax benefit of $77 million, or 9.3 percent of pre-tax loss in last year’s third quarter. Income tax expense in the third quarter includes $3 million of net provisions related to certain tax positions. The tax rate for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 reflects the impact of the impairment charges, the majority of which was not deductible for tax purposes. Excluding these items, the tax rate for the third quarter of fiscal 2013 was 38.7 percent and the tax rate for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 was 37.4 percent.
Diluted weighted-average shares outstanding for the third quarter were 214 million shares compared to 212 million shares last year. For the third quarter of fiscal 2012, diluted loss per share is computed using the basic weighted-average number of shares outstanding and excludes all outstanding stock options and restricted stock as their effect is anti-dilutive when applied to a loss. As of January 7, 2013, SUPERVALU had 213 million shares outstanding.