What: Shares of SUPERVALU (NYSE:SVU) were up about 15% as of 10:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday after reporting its second-quarter financial results and announcing that it would consider a spinoff of its Save-A-Lot discount-retail chain into a separately publicly traded company.
So what: On the earnings front, SUPERVALU squeezed out a lot of profit from small gains in sales, with adjusted net income from continuing operations rising by 30% and producing earnings of $0.23 per share, 15% higher than what investors had expected. Yet same-store sales figures were fairly weak, with Save-A-Lot seeing networkwide gains of just 0.6% and SUPERVALU's retail food stores suffering a 0.3% drop in comps.
Yet the announcement concerning a Save-A-Lot spinoff got most of the attention from investors. CEO Sam Duncan believes that "a separation of our Save-A-Lot business could allow Save-A-Lot, our Independent Business, and our Retail Food banners to better focus on their respective operations and pursue strategies specific to their business characteristics and growth potentials." The company didn't specify when or if it would move forward, but investors clearly believe that SUPERVALU will keep working to unlock the Save-A-Lot unit's full value.
Now what: SUPERVALU has done an exceptional job in the past of using strategic reorganizations to its advantage, having negotiated the sale of major grocery-store banners like Albertsons and Jewel-Osco to third-party buyers in order to focus more on its remaining brands. Now, SUPERVALU believes that it can do the same thing by narrowing its scope even further, and given the particular success that Save-A-Lot has had and the huge role the unit has played, the company hopes that it can persuade investors in an initial public offering or other sale to reward a separately traded Save-A-Lot with a healthier valuation. It'll take a while for SUPERVALU's advisors to make their recommendations, but investors should watch closely for future news regarding a spinoff.