Interest expense increased to $87.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 from $84.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 due to higher average borrowings, partly offset by lower average interest rates.
Income tax expense was 31.0% of pre-tax income in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 30.0% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
In January 2012, Safeway announced the planned sale or closure of its Genuardi's stores located in the eastern United States. In the fourth quarter of 2012, these transactions were completed with a pre-tax loss of $15.8 million ($9.6 million, after tax). For the year, the sale and closure of Genuardi's stores generated cash proceeds of $107.0 million and a pre-tax gain of $52.4 million ($31.9 million after tax).
Net income for the fiscal year 2012 increased to $596.5 million ($2.40 per diluted share) from net income for 2011 of $516.7 million ($1.49 per diluted share). Income from continuing operations increased to $566.2 million ($2.27 per diluted share) in 2012 from $518.2 million ($1.49 per diluted share) in 2011. Net income in 2012 benefited from the $46.5 million gain ($28.4 million after tax, or $0.12 per diluted share) from legal settlements while net income in 2011 was reduced by the $98.9 million tax charge ($0.29 per diluted share) from the Canadian dividend paid in the first half of 2011.
Sales increased 1.3% to $44.2 billion in 2012 from $43.6 billion in 2011. This increase was primarily due to increased fuel sales, higher gift and prepaid card sales and an identical-store sales increase (excluding fuel) of 0.5%, partially offset by the disposition of the Genuardi's stores.
Gross profit margin declined 52 basis points to 26.51% in 2012 from 27.03% in 2011. Excluding the 30 basis-point impact from fuel sales, gross profit declined 22 basis points, primarily due to investments in price and cost incurred to launch our just for U loyalty program, partly offset by lower LIFO expense.
Operating and administrative expense decreased 42 basis points to 24.01% in 2012 from 24.43% in 2011. Excluding the 16 basis-point impact from fuel sales, operating and administrative expense decreased 26 basis points primarily because of the gain from legal settlements and lower labor expense.
Income tax expense decreased to 31.7% of pre-tax income in 2012 from 41.3% in 2011 primarily due to a $98.9 million tax charge in 2011 resulting from the repatriation of $1.1 billion of earnings from Safeway's wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary.
Net cash flow provided by operating activities decreased to $1,569.7 million in 2012 from $2,023.6 million in 2011. This decrease was due primarily to a greater use of cash flow for working capital which was largely calendar driven.
Net cash flow used by investing activities decreased to $572.0 million in 2012 from $1,014.5 million in 2011 primarily due to increased proceeds from the sale of properties, net cash proceeds from discontinued operations and lower capital expenditures in 2012.
Net cash flow used by financing activities increased to $1,373.8 million in 2012 from $1,077.3 million in 2011 due primarily to lower net additions to debt in 2012, partially offset by a lower level of stock repurchases in 2012.
Safeway invested $240.4 million in capital expenditures in the fourth quarter of 2012. The company opened three new Lifestyle stores, completed two Lifestyle remodels and closed six stores. For the year, Safeway invested $927.6 million in capital expenditures, opened nine new Lifestyle stores, completed four Lifestyle remodels and closed 46 stores (including 25 Genuardi's stores sold or closed during the year).
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