BOISE, Idaho -- Albertson's recent failure to meet its historic earnings-growth levels was the price necessary to gear the company for new forms of competition, Gary Michael, chief executive officer, said at the annual meeting here. Noting that earnings growth for 1996 -- while good -- was below the company's traditional standards, Michael said that the performance falloff was necessary to prepare the company for long-term success in a world where "grocery stores are not just grocery stores ...

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