SHARES OF PUBLICLY TRADED food retailers have largely lagged the market overall during the third quarter, although for the most part they have enjoyed a September surge in concert with the major indices. The three largest traditional supermarket operators have all seen third-quarter gains. Kroger Co., Cincinnati, was up about 5%; Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., was up about 6%; and Supervalu, Minneapolis, rose about 6%. Those gains compare with an increase of nearly 10% for the S&P 500 ...

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