NEW YORK -- Trim and tanned and tie-less, Larry Johnston told the investment analysts gathered in an elegant meeting room at the Hotel Pierre here one morning last month, "Albertson's has been running on a fast track for the past 11 months." Then, pointing to the image on the screen at the front of the room -- a time line displaying a dozen key dates since he had joined the Boise, Idaho-based retailer as chairman and chief executive officer on April 24, 2001 -- Johnston added, "In fact, ...

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