Albertson's Inc. has agreed to buy 74 of American Stores Co.'s Jewel-Osco food and drug stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Florida, plus a merchandise warehouse in Ponca City, Okla.

In a statement, Albertson's said it signed a letter of intent Tuesday to buy the stores from Salt Lake-based American Stores but that no definitive sales agreement had yet been reached. Albertson's is based in Boise.American Stores said it expects to realize about $300 million on the sale after subtracting taxes and retained liabilities.

The money will be used to pay down long-term debt, part of a program that began in 1989 with the divestiture of 21 combination food and drug stores in Arkansas, Kansas, Utah and Texas, American Stores President and Chief Executive J.L. Scott said in a statement.