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Carrefour's profit rise but shares drop

International supermarket group Carrefour achieved a sharp profit increase or 16.7 percent to 274 million euros (US$367m, S$457m)  in the first half of the year, but the company's shares fell sharply on Thursday (July 31).

PARIS: International supermarket group Carrefour achieved a sharp profit increase in the first half of the year, it reported on Thursday (July 31) but the company's shares fell sharply.

Net profit rose 16.7 percent to 274 million euros (US$367 million, S$457 million) and the current operating profit rose by 7.9 percent to 833 million euros. This was achieved on a 1.7-percent fall in sales to 40.3 billion euros.

Carrefour said that activity had been particularly encouraging in France despite deflationary pressures and price-cutting in the supermarket sector. Activity in Belgium and Spain had risen, but did less well in Italy.

Business in Latin America was undermined by unfavourable exchange rates, and in Asia operating profit had fallen by 15.2 percent to 83 million euros mainly because of "frugal consumption" in China, the group said.

The price of shares in the group was down 4.81 percent to 25.82 euros in midday trading. The overall French market was down by 0.56 percent.

At brokers Global Equities, trader Xavier de Villepion, referring to jitters in European stock markets over the possible effects of sanctions on Russia, commented: "In a context where the market is worried, results would have to be much better for the shares to hold up."

In common with many French companies, Carrefour blamed much of the sluggish overall headline sales figure on unfavourable exchange rates. If this factor were flattened out, sales rose by 4.9 percent which it said represented the best figure for internal growth for five years.

"In the first half, Carrefour achieved a very good performance. Both its results and profitability progressed," finance director Pierre-Jean Sivignon told a telephone press conference.

The group did not provide guidance for the year, although earlier this month it said that analysts' overall expectation of an operating profit of 2.38 billion euros for the year was "reasonable".

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