Times Staff and Wire Reports

S&P; to Monitor Ralphs' Bonds: Standard & Poor's Corp., the agency that ranks corporate credit, said it will monitor the financial status of Ralphs Grocery Co. to determine if bonds issued by the supermarket operator should be ranked lower. If lowered, some of Ralphs' $1.19 billion in bonds would be ranked "highly speculative." S&P;'s "creditwatch" statement was issued one day after Ralphs reported a first-quarter loss of $32 million. The agency said the earnings performance was lower than expected, but said it would meet with company executives about its financial status. A Ralphs spokesman said the Compton-based company will show that the first-quarter performance was largely a result of lingering costs associated with its 1995 merger with the operator of the Alpha Beta, Boys, Viva and Food 4 Less chains.

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