Mar 18, 2010
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Aeon sees profit recovery in second half of 2009/10

Mar 18, 2010

TOKYO, March 18 (Reuters) - Aeon Co Ltd (8267.T), Japan's second-largest retailer, said it is likely to post an operating profit of 128.8 billion yen for the year ended in February, beating market expectations thanks to a sharp recovery in the second half.

Aeon Co Ltd

The company said operating profit likely rose 42 percent in the September-February half as it expanded its cost-cutting drive, offsetting a continued slide in sales as consumer spending remains weak.

It also got a boost from an improving performance at its U.S. apparel chain Talbots (TLB.N), which had previously been a drag on Aeon's group earnings.

The 128.8 billion yen ($1.4 billion) operating profit for the year ended in February is short of its profit forecast for 130-140 billion yen, but beats the mean estimate of 120.5 billion yen in a poll of 14 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

That represents a 3.6 percent rise in full-year operating profit, despite a 40 percent drop in the first half of the year.

Aeon, the operator of Jusco supermarket stores, said sales continued to fall amid prolonged weakness in consumer spending, but the pace of decline in same-store sales has been slowing in recent months thanks to its aggressive marketing efforts.

Late last year, Aeon said it would sell its majority stake in Talbots, ending a two-decade relationship.

Aeon is scheduled to announce its annual results on April 14.

Shares of Aeon ended down 0.6 percent at 988 yen before the announcement, outperforming a 1 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei average .N225. ($1=90.29 Yen) (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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