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NEW YORK -- The future of supermarket chain Supervalu is becoming cloudier.

The retailer's shares lost almost half their value on Thursday, the day after the company, which owns the Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Save-A-Lot and other grocery chains, reported dismal first-quarter results, suspended its dividend and announced plans to potentially put itself up for sale.

Shares of rivals like Safeway Inc. and Kroger Co. also tumbled following Supervalu's vow that it would be even more aggressive in its plan to permanently lower prices across the store, instead of offering fleeting discounts.

Analysts believe that it's unlikely that Supervalu will find a buyer because of its high debt, $6.3 billion as of June 16. Furthermore, investors will probably shy away from the low-growth supermarket industry.

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