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Shares of



were down 7% after the company said its fourth-quarter earnings would be below analysts' estimates due to slower sales.

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The company also provided full-year 2003 guidance that falls below analysts' forecasts.

Shares were down $1.60 at $21.00 in premarket trading.

The company said it expects to earn between 78 cents and 80 cents a share in the fourth quarter. Analysts are expecting 82 cents a share, on average. Safeway earned 81 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter.

For 2003, the company expects to earn between $2.50 and $2.65 a share, which is below its expected 2002 EPS of $2.77 to $2.79. Analysts expect the company to earn $2.81 a share in 2002 and $2.92 a share in 2003.