The crystal ball is decidedly cloudy for supermarket stocks in the coming year, with the prospect of creeping inflation weighing against the possibility of improvement in employment and the economy. “Against a backdrop of heavy competition, and with a consumer that is still focused on low prices/discounts, we believe food inflation could hurt grocer results either through margin shortfalls or demand declines,” Mark Wiltamuth, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, New York, wrote in a report last ...

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