REFILE-Aeon scores 9 pct Q1 profit rise, keeps full-year outlook

Wed Jul 4, 2012 2:20am EDT

TOKYO, July 4 (Reuters) - Japanese retailer Aeon Co booked a 9.1 percent rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday on higher sales of private-brand and energy efficient goods at its general merchandise and grocery stores, and stuck to its forecast for a record profit in its business year to next February.

Many general retailers in Japan are expecting record profits this year as they take steps to combat chronic deflation, such as by cutting advertising, reducing unprofitable sales areas and expanding their selection of higher-profit private-label goods.

Aeon, which ranks second to Japan's top general retailer Seven & I Holdings Co in terms of market capitalisation and competes with Seiyu, the Japan arm of Wal-Mart Stores , posted a March-May operating profit of 30.9 billion yen ($386.88 million).

Japan's top supermarket operator kept its full-year operating profit forecast unchanged at 210-220 billion yen, in line with the average estimate of 217.4 billion yen in a poll of 12 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares in Aeon have fallen about 5 percent in the year to date, underperforming a close to 8 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei average.