AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Ahold Delhaize NV <AD.AS>, a major operator of supermarket chains in the United States and Europe, 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 euros ($1.19 billion), up 78% from 594 million euros in the same period a year ago, on comparable sales of 19.1 billion euros, up 15.9%.
Analysts in a company-compiled poll had forecast underlying operating income at 640 million euros on sales of 18.0 billion euros.
"The engagement and strong execution of our teams have translated this unprecedented demand in both the U.S. and Europe, due to COVID-19, into outstanding results," said CEO Frans Muller in a statement.
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 euros in 2020, rather than next year as originally forecast.
Ahold shares closed at 24.99 euros on Tuesday, up 12.1% so far this 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.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Tom Hogue and Louise Heavens)