reported fourth-quarter earnings today that beat Wall Street's estimates by 2 cents and represented a 20% increase over earnings posted for the same period last year.

The groceries giant earned $365.7 million, or 71 cents a share, excluding costs and lost sales associated with a 47-day strike. According to

First Call/Thompson Financial

, 16 analysts expected the company to report earnings of 69 cents a share. During the same quarter one year ago, Safeway earned $305.3 million, or 59 cents a share.

TheStreet Recommends

Taking into account the strike and other one-time costs, Safeway's net fell to $299.1 million, or 58 cents a share.

The company, which is based in Pleasanton, Calif., posted fourth-quarter revenue of $10 billion, up from the year ago figure of $9.9 billion.

Shares of Safeway, which operates more than 1,680 retail supermarkets throughout North America, fell $1.31, or 2.5%, to $50.50 in recent

New York Stock Exchange